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BYU-Idaho Professor Discovers New Fossil

Published On: Jan 20 2012 10:18:56 AM CST   Updated On: Jan 20 2012 10:41:03 AM CST

A Brigham Young University - Idaho science professor, Dave Stricklan, has uncovered a rare to unknown fish species where only plant fossils had been found before.

The specimen is termed the Bourbonnella Jocelynae. It's a tiny fish fossil only about the size of a dollar coin that a curious professor dug up nearly a decade ago.

Take a stroll through the exhibits of the geology museum at BYU - Idaho and you'll find all sorts of unburied treasures, from dinosaur bones to ancient plants preserved in stone.

Never before has this species of fish or any animal life come out of the Manning Canyon Shale Formation in Lehi, Utah. In fact, the species is the first of it's kind to be found in North America.

"There are some in Europe, and they're marine," said Stricklan.

That could establish a much deeper link.

"There's a discussion about whether or not there is a marine connection between North America and Europe at the time," said Stricklan.

That's not the only positive outcome of this new fossil coming to light, though. Stricklan said it gives researchers a more in-depth look at evolution. It is a new species and one of the more primitive species in that group.

For all of the other young, curious minds out there, he offered some advice.

"There are things to do in science that are new and meaningful. That's what drew me to it," said Stricklan.

So why is the public just hearing about the Bourbonnella Jocelynae 10 years after its discovery?

Stricklan said there's a lot of red tape involved when naming a new species. He said it must be thoroughly reviewed, and this one took longer than usual.

The Manning Canyon Shale Formation is still being excavated.