Two brothers have been hailed by scientists for making a super-rare fossil discovery.
The amazing ‘arthropod’ find was made in the the Australian outback in the Amadeus Basin south of Alice Springs earlier this month.
Amateur fossil hunters Patrick Nelson and his brother were exploring the region the Northern Territory when they hit the jackpot.
Patrick, who has found 12 smaller fossils in the past, stumbled over the 460-million-year-old animal fossil dating back to the Ordovician Period in a red rocky area.
He took pictures of the fossil and sent them to a few friends who also share an interest in palaeontology, local media report.
He told 9News: “I was bouncing off the ceiling, once I sensed the excitement of those experts in the field I was pretty excited too.”
He has since decided to donate his rare find to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.
Dr Adam Yates, the museum’s senior curator of earth and sciences, said the find was “significant” as it was the first time an arthropod had been discovered in the outback.
“It’s fantastic for us, we don’t have many staff so we really do rely on citizen scientists to help build a picture of ancient Australia,” Dr Yates said.
“Nothing like it has been found in Central Australia before and we are excited to identify this rare find.
“This new discovery is the first time any sort of arthropod other than a trilobite has ever been discovered from the Ordovician Period of the Northern Territory.
“To find a fully articulated body makes the discovery all the more significant.”
He said the museum will conduct further tests and may put the fossil on display for others to see and appreciate.
Arthropods are invertebrates with jointed legs that make up about 75% of animals on Earth.
They include cockroaches, crabs, butterflies, beetles, centipedes, scorpions, shrimp, spiders, lobsters, lice, ticks and termites.
They originated in oceans during the Cambrian period 530million years ago and adapted to changing environments so successfully they still exist in great numbers today.
The museum is now conducting further testing and will consider putting the fossil on permanent display.