Amateur paleontologist finds rare fossil

An Arizona woman made an incredible discovery while taking part in a dig at the Petrified Forest.

What she found has professionals a bit envious, and she isn't even a paleontologist.

Stephanie Leco was part of the First Dig for Everyday People held in August at the National Park located near Holbrook in the Petrified Forest. It's located about 3 1/2 hours from Phoenix, just east of Flagstaff.

The area is known to turn up rare finds from the dinosaur age, Leco who is a professional photographer found something that seasoned paleontologists only dream of finding.

"I wouldn't expect to run into something like this ever again, I didn't expect it the first time," said Stephanie Leco.

As a kid she'd even dig in her backyard for fun, she's always been fascinated with digging.

When she had an opportunity to be a part of one of the first digs held in August she jumped at the chance, never expecting to find what she did.

"It is the jaw bone of a saurichthys, which is a beaked fish that is normally found in the early to mid-Triassic period, where as we were digging in the late Triassic period," she said.

The fossil is said to be about 220 million years old. It's only the size of a pinky fingernail, the jaw of the fish would have been about 3-4 times longer than the fossil.

What makes this fossil so unique is this type of fish was thought to have been extinct in the Petrified Forest area where they were digging.

"The only other evidence of it being in this time period was previously found in China, so this is the first time that it's being seen in the North America for this time period," said Leco.

Leco says the find has made her even more fascinated with digging. She plans to go on many more digs in the future.


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