Pa. kayaker finds ancient tree fossil

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- A Pennsylvania man kayaking on a local river found a tree fossil embedded in a rock at the river's side that experts say is almost 300 million years old.

Shaun Blackham of Demont, Pa., was paddling his kayak on the Kiskiminetas River in Armstrong County in July when he spotted the fossil imprinted on the surface of a rock, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.


"There it was, staring me right in the face," said Blackham, 45.

The plant fossil was 3 to 4 feet long and 10 to 14 inches wide.

Blackham kayaked back to the site later and photographed the fossil.

He e-mailed the photos to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.

Museum geologist Albert Kollar recognized the fossil as bark from a now-extinct lepidodendron tree, a large, palm-like tree that grew in coal swamps during the Carboniferous period of the Paleozoic Era.

"It was a pretty interesting find," Kollar said.

Blackham has enjoyed history and the outdoors since childhood, he said, and has found other, smaller fossils in the area.

"This kind of brought the kid out in me again," he said. "I always thought it would be cool to find something of this magnitude."


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