Amateur’s fossil find: Stephanie Leco Discovery

Published: September 5, 2015

Amateur’s fossil find: Stephanie Leco Discovery, Stephanie Leco, an amateur paleontologist, unearthed a rare fossil of fish, which is believed to be existing 220 years ago, in Arizona.

Flagstaff, Arizona – Stephanie Leco, an amateur paleontologist, discovered a rare jaw bone from a fish in Arizona. It is said that this jaw bone belonged to a long-snouted fish that existed over 220 million years ago.

Ever since she was young, Leco already have the dreams of being a paleontologist. She would dig in their backyard, pretending to be on a mission to find some fossils that belonged to a tyrannosaurus rex. Her dreams of digging up rare fossils have come true. However, it was rare fish fossils that she discovered at Petrified Forest and not tyrannosaurus rex fossils.

The fossil that Stephanie Leco unearthed is only small. It is about the pinky fingernail’s size. The fossil was discovered from the site that was either a pond or a lake during the period of Late Triassic phase when this long-snouted fish was believed to have already gone extinct in the North America.

According to Bill Parker, the paleontologist of Petrified Forest Park, scientists are well-aware by the fact that related fish were existing all over the world during the early Triassic period, which is more or less ten million years ago. Despite the fact that they believed that these related fishes existed across the globe, fossils were only discovered in the country of China during the Late Triassic.

Parker also added that he believes that people who are studying this group of fish might be heading to their directions now to gather information regarding the new-found fossil.

Leco was straining through loose dirt on a barren hillside when she found the fossil. She already unearthed some things like tibia of a plant lizard and several small teeth. Right after she unearthed the jaw bone, she immediately handed it over to Matt Smith, the lead fossil preparer of the park, to ask what it was. Smith also did not know what it was.

To further assess the fossil, it was taken to the lab. Then, the park emailed Stephanie Leco later stating that the fossil was a fish closely linked to the genius Saurichthys.


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