Fossilized, 350 million-year-old lobster claw found off Cape Breton

Julie Collins
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Veteran fishermen Colin Dandy shows off a fossilized lobster claw he snagged while fishing scallops off the Bird Islands. Photo by Julie Collins/Cape Breton Post

Sydney Mines, N.S. -

Colin Dandy has been fishing for 30-plus years and over that time has pulled his fair share of unusual items from the sea.

While fishing scallops about two and a half miles off the Bird Islands, Dandy hauled in a fossilized lobster claw.

"You can see where the claw was buried in the sand and after so long it carbonized," Dandy said. "It goes to show that lobsters were around here long before man."

He plans to loan the fossilized claw to the Cape Breton Fossil Centre in Sydney Mines.

"My father caught two of them early in the 1960s over at Scatarie Island. Both of them are in the Maritime Museum in Halifax, but from what I can understand they are in the basement where no one can see them," he said. "I've had it in my possession since last September because I really wasn't sure what to do with it. But, after consideration, rather than send it off anywhere, I think it's best because of the history to keep it local so the people can see it, especially the school children."

Dr. Stuart Critchely, curator with the Cape Breton Fossil Centre in Sydney Mines, confirmed what Dandy believed, that it is indeed a fossilized lobster claw from the carboniferous era.

According to Critchley, this would make the claw between 300 million and 350 million years old.

Critchley said he examined the claw and found that part of it is lined with carbon.

"This meant that it had to exist in the carboniferous era, the same era as the plants we house here at the fossil centre," Critchley said. "This is a very rare find and I'm delighted that he decided to keep it local."

Dandy said over the years he has hauled up a variety of items including pieces of swords, parts of old bomber planes, different looking rocks and brass nails stamped with the fleur de lis.

"You never really know what you might end up with when you are fishing. This is the first fossilized claw I've found. People could easily haul them up, but might not know what they are, so it is best to check with the experts."

The Cape Breton Post

Organizations: Cape Breton Fossil Centre, Maritime Museum

Geographic location: Cape Breton, Sydney Mines, Bird Islands Scatarie Island Halifax

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