via WWF

Imagine being on a leisurely walk along the side of a river. A walk to clear your mind and get in touch with nature and suddenly make an incredible discovery of the history of the planet.

This is what happened to Russell Ball, a retired military explosives disposal expert who spends his free time collecting fossils. It was because of this that while walking along the Puntledge River on Vancouver Island, Canada in January he was able to identify a strange figure emerging from the ground.

When he saw that figure, his instinct and experience told him not to overlook it, so he began to dig to unearth it. After a few hours working very carefully not to damage whatever that buried thing was, he finally managed to get it out.

“Every single time I do that, it’s the same fun as opening a gift. You don’t know what’s going to be inside there. And when you find a fossil, you’re the only person in the history of humans to have ever seen that creature,”said Russell.

After unearthing it, Russel knew it was a fossil but he didn’t know exactly which animal it was, so he decided to contact the Vancouver Island Paleontological Society, the Royal British Columbia Museum, and the British Columbia Fossil Management Office so that the corresponding studies could be done.

Scientists have been able to identify the fossil as belonging to an ancient fossilized sea turtle of at least 84 million years old, however, it is still debated whether this specimen belongs to any of the other two types of sea turtles that have been found in the area or if on the contrary it is a new species never seen before.

Either of the two options excites scientists a lot because it is part of an already known species or constitutes a new unknown family. The introduction of this fossil will allow experts to understand in greater depth the functioning of the marine ecosystem of millions of years ago.