Heavy Rains Expose Fossil Find Along Maryland Creek - FOX 13 News

Heavy Rains Expose Fossil Find Along Maryland Creek

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ACCOKEEK, Md. – A retired Maryland farmer says all the rain the Washington, D.C., area has had exposed some new layers of the creek bed that runs through his property. That's when he made a 58-million-year-old discovery, FOX's Will Thomas reports.

The farmland was once under water millions of years ago.

"The area at this time was the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and not way over in Ocean City," said Peter Kranz, of the Dinosaur Park in Laurel, Md.

Finding prehistoric sharks teeth is nothing new around here. But the new discovery is a significant paleontological find.

John Nance and a team from the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Md., are excavating the ancient reptile, which appears to be an intact and as big as two-feet by two-feet in size.

They say it looked a lot like its closest living relative, a soft-shell turtle.

The reptile would have inhabited the freshwater near the ocean 58 million years ago.

"Unlike a normal turtle, which has a smooth shell, this has a very bumpy shell because it had a skin over the top of it, which is why it's called a soft-shell turtle," Kranz said.

"First we'll dig around the specimen in the creek, and we'll create sort of a pedestal around the bones," Nance said. "And what we do from there is we put a plaster jacket around the bones, and that helps protect it from getting damaged during transport."

The one-inch thick, hard shell – an armor, if you will – that would have protected the turtle from most predators.

"The last big turtle we found in this area was found about 10 years ago," Kranz said. "So, about once every 10 years, and there are only presumably two known specimens of this particular animal."

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