Imagine you are walking along a beautiful beach, enjoying the fresh sea breeze, and suddenly you look up and see something strange, embedded in a high rocky cliff stretching along the coast. On closer inspection it is a large spiral, a shell. It's actually a fossil of a 200-year-old ammonite, a Jurassic shell.
So a day in Llanthwit Major turned into an extraordinary discovery for 9-year-old Eli and his father Glenn Morris. The finding of a Welsh boy is rare in this area and of interest to researchers. Eli lives with his family in Birchgrove, Swansea, Wales. He is no stranger to fossil hunting, even at such a young age. He usually goes looking for fossils with his father. "We always go somewhere along the coast, usually down Gower Road, but this was our first time here so it was really beginner's luck," Morris told the BBC.
"Growing up I was a bit of a nerd, I liked dinosaurs and rocks and the same things he did to be honest and I think I passed that on to him." During those expeditions, Eli collected several fossils for his collection. He told the BBC: "They're just interesting and I love their shape and texture. It's just cool."
That day, the family went a little further to a charming rocky beach near a cliff. Eli said, "I just sat here and looked up and was like, 'Oh my god, that's big!' Dr Nick Felstead of Swansea University commented on the fossil: "The fossil Ely found is an ammonite, a species of mollusk closely related to octopus, squid and cuttlefish, a rare find at Llantwit Major. We can see that the inner chambers, which should have served to buoy the ammonite, were filled with quartz at the time of fossilisation, which is even rarer and makes it particularly beautiful.” The fossil record is an impressive 200 million years old, and it is contemporary with the dinosaurs .
Young Eli was obviously thrilled by the discovery, but the paleontologist's fame pales in comparison to his true goal in life - to become a soccer player. However, if he continues to search the beaches, he may find even more fossils. Common people in Britain have been known to come across important fossils on beaches and dairy farms.
The Americans might find them, too, if they're lucky. No one is too young, as revealed by Eli and another 9-year-old Maryland boy who discovered a Megadon tooth. These young scientists continue to uncover parts of Earth's history.