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Girl, 5, found 160 million year old fossil with a beach spade

The Sun UK | September 12, 2011

GIRL of six got more than she bargained for when she went digging with a plastic spade and found a 160million year old fossil.

Lucky Emily Baldry unearthed the massive Rieneckia odysseus fossil during her first archaeological dig last year.

And now after months of restoration she has donated it to a museum to be enjoyed by the public.

She pulled the 130lb specimen — which has a diameter of 40cm — out of the ground in March last year when she was just FIVE.

Stunned dad Jon Baldry couldn’t believe his eyes when Emily’s seaside spade hit the fossil at Cotswold Water Park in Gloucestershire.

It has since undergone a year’s worth of careful restoration and now boasts fearsome 2cm spikes.

Emily, who lives in Chippenham, Wilts, was reunited with the rock on Sunday when she presented it to the Gateway Information Centre near Cirencester, Gloucs.

She said she was very impressed with the transformation of her rock, which she nicknamed Spike, saying: “It is so exciting to see him. I was very happy when I first saw him and now he looks very shiny. I bring him into school and all of my friends like him too.”

Proud dad Jon, 40, added: “It is really breathtaking how much work has gone into restoring Spike. It is so lovely to see it on display and great that others can enjoy it. Emily found it so she is its official owner, which is quite remarkable at the age of six, but we will keep bringing it to wherever people want to see it.”

The stone will go on display at the centre, run by the Cotswold Water Park Trust, for three weeks for other experts and children to admire.

The fossilised sea creature with a spiral-patterned shell was a mollusc that lived in the oceans during the Jurassic period — the same time as dinosaurs.

Emily’s fossil had spikes to ward off predators and was encased in a block of mudstone when it came out of the ground.