A Canadian schoolteacher recently made a discovery that paleontologists are referring to as a lifetime find.
It may be 300 million years old, represent a brand-new prehistoric species to science, and at most be a "once in a hundred years" discovery that might fundamentally alter the fossil record.
Southwest Prince Edward Island (PEI) resident Lisa Cormier was out on a stroll when she came across what seemed to be a skeleton.
The head, ribs, and spine were all embedded in the stone like fossilized remains. Geologists and paleontologists raced to the cape after she took images and forwarded them to her mother, starting a domino effect.
It was a fossil, and prehistoric PEI specialist John Calder told CBC news that it was "very unusual."
“A fossil like this comes up every 50 years or 100 years,” he said. “I mean there’s no real frequency, but it’s rare. And this could be a one-of-a-kind fossil in the tree of life … of the evolution of amphibians, to reptiles, to mammals to us.”
Calder thinks it's an early reptile that diverged from amphibians roughly 300 million years ago, during the Carboniferous period. It may be difficult to determine this period's position in the development of reptiles or even its exact time in history because so few specimens from it are known.
The researcher cautioned beachgoers to keep an eye out because there are many more beachcombers than there are paleontologists, in addition to the fact that prehistoric finds are becoming more regular.
“To think that I found something that might be 300 million years old, it’s incredible,” Cormier said. “I think it’s gonna be a one-time [thing], but I’ll continue my walks and I’m going to continue to look for sea glass and maybe I’ll find something else.”