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Student's 'Show-and-Tell' Fossil Proves Historic Find

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Roseville, Minn--Two years ago, Andy Mason, now a 13-year-old 8th grader, found a 10-inch long object in a clay pit outside nearby St. Paul, a mecca for rock enthusiasts.

Now, it turns out, Andy has made paleontology history--the gray lump with a brown shell pattern on the side is a 4 million-year-old trilobite.

It had lain forgotten in the Mason family garage until Duane Budde, Andy's science teacher at the Chippewa Middle School, asked pupils to bring in for a show-and-tell project any fossils they had.

When Mr. Budde saw Andy's of-fering, he was so amazed that he contacted experts at the University of Minnesota. Richard Sloan, a faculty member who is an authority on fossils, called Andy's find "spectacular." He said it was twice the size of the largest trilobite he'd seen in the last 30 years and added that it was only one inch shorter than the largest ever found before in Minnesota, in 1893.

Mr. Sloan explained that trilobites are distant ancestors of modern crabs and lobsters, more like horseshoe crabs than anything else. Andy's fossil was inside the empty shell of a cephalopod, a shelled crea-ture that was an early version of the squid, according to the scholar.

It appears that both the University of Minnesota and the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul might be in the market for Andy's find.

But the discoverer himself seems uninspired by the object that is now sitting in the middle of the family's living-room coffee table.

The expedition two years ago that produced the find was his first fossil hunt, and he hasn't repeated the experience.

Is he interested in fossils? "Not really," he said.

--Austin Wehrwein

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