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article image450-million-year-old fossil found in Tennessee woman's yard

By Greta McClain     Feb 27, 2013 in Odd News
Smyrna - A Tennessee woman discovered the 10 pound rock she has been using as a door stop for the past 15 years was much more unique than she first believed.
Betty LeMaster, a retired Smyrna, Tennessee resident, was working in her yard in 1996, cleaning out some old rocks that were lying around. She came across one particular rock that caught her attention, causing her to pick it up and examine it more closely. She noticed that it was much different than any other rock in the yard, so she got a magnifying glass to take a closer look. It was then that she saw what she believed to be tiny "legs" embedded in the rock, perhaps some sort of insects that had called the rock home at some point in its history. She told her husband:
"I don’t know what it is, but there are some little things in there.’”
Her husband was not as impressed with the rock as she was, telling her it was nothing more than a rock and not to worry with it. But, because it was so unusual looking, she decided she wanted to keep it, using the rock as a door stop, propping the door from her laundry room to the den open.
Recent LeMaster and some friends were watching an episode of the television series "America Unearthed". It was while watching the show LeMaster began to think her rock 's appearance may not be the only unique thing about it. LeMaster took the rock to Alan Brown, a geosciences instructor at nearby Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). She was shocked by what she learned.
After examining the rock, Brown said the rock was actually a fossilized coral, a coral that pre-dated the dinosaurs in the area. In fact, it was a 450-million-year-old fossilized coral to be exact.
Brown went on to explain that much of Tennessee was submerged under a shallow sea millions of years ago, a sea filled with various forms of marine life. As the coral died and sank to the bottom of the sea floor, sediment covered the coral and whatever tiny marine life that may have called it home. Over millions of years, the coral and creatures became fossilized. Brown told the Daily News Journal:
“Each little chamber would have been a separate animal. As each animal grows, it deposits a little more calcite.”
By examining the rock and the vast geological research available, Brown knows the fossil is approximately 450-million-years-old. That in and of itself makes it usual, however the type of coral makes it more unusual, with Brown saying:
"I've seen lots of coral from Rutherford County, but not that particular type. This type of coral isn't around any more.”
LeMaster told WTVF:
"I couldn't believe it, and my daughter looked at me and said, 'You used it as a door prop for [15] years!'. Needless to say its not a door prop anymore."
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