SUNY Plattsburgh Finds, Donates Ancient Fossil to New York State Museum

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Two students from the Capital District were among SUNY Plattsburgh geology students who recently discovered the rare bones of an ancient harbor seal that have now been donated to the geology collections of the New York State Museum.

Jason Klein of Cohoes and Zachary Irwin of Burnt Hills were with Jake McAdoo and other students collecting mud samples at the site of the old Plattsburgh Air Force Base on Lake Champlain when McAdoo’s shovel hit something hard.

“Jake said that he thought he hit a railroad spike. Then, he dug further down and said, ‘No, I think it’s a bone,’” said Dr. David Franzi, SUNY distinguished teaching professor of earth and environmental science, who had gone to the site with his students to lead them in a landslide study for his environmental geology class. “I told him, ‘No, it’s not a bone,’” said Franzi. “You almost never find bones.”

But Franzi was wrong. It was a bone, and a very special bone at that.

Dr. Robert Feranec, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the State Museum, verified that the fossilized bones belong to a harbor seal. He believes they date back to the existence of the Champlain Sea, during the end of the last glacial cycle about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago...

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