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Boy finds rare fossil at Museum of Life and Science

Seven-year-old digs up $400 fossil at the Durham museum's fossil dig.

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A symphesial cow shark tooth found at the Museum of Life and Science
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
Cute story from the Museum of Life and Science in Durham ...

While digging through the museum's fossil dig site in July, seven-year-old Jesse from Havelock unearthed an extremely rare fossil, a symphesial cow shark jaw. 

“I wasn’t sure what he found at first because it wasn’t listed on the museum’s fossil identification chart. Jesse thought it was a devils ray. But I knew it wasn’t,” said Amanda Duncan, Jesse’s mother, in a press release. 

Duncan searched the web for answers. When her search proved unsuccessful, she turned to an online fossil forum for help and posted the image, along with a description of where the fossil was found.

That's when she found out Jesse had really found something. Responses poured in. One collector described it as the "Holy Grail" of sharks teeth. Collectors remarked on the fossil's pristine condition. One offered to buy it for $400.

But Duncan decided the fossil was such an important part of Jesse's childhood, that they would keep it. It's now in a safe deposit box. The Duncans are talking with the museum about putting it on display.

“I want other children to see it and learn from it,” Jesse said in the release.

The museum's dig site, which is part of the Dinosaur Trail, contains phosphate dirt from a mine in Aurora, N.C. Museum visitors will likely find the remains of ancient sharks, whales, bony fish, corals, shells and other invertebrates that are 23 million to 5 million years old.

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