Six-year-old Emily Baldry has got the fossil hunting bug after uncovering a 162 million-year-old specimen on her first- ever dig.
The 40cm diameter ammonite, a rieneckia odysseus, was officially unveiled this week at Costwold Wildlife Park, where the Chippenham schoolgirl first discovered it.
Emily, of Pew Hill, was with dad Jon, 40, and grandparents Pam and Les, of Malmesbury, when she dug up the fossil using her children’s garden spade.
Since the discovery Emily has been keen to get back out digging to add to her collection of ancient finds.
Her mum Jess, 35, said: “She’s enjoyed being interviewed and talking about it at school and she has even taken it in for assembly to answer questions about it.
“It’s definitely been an experience to remember.”
The fossil will be exhibited at the Cotswold visitor centre for the next fortnight before it is returned to the Monkton Park pupil, who is its legal owner.
“It has sparked an interest for her and she’s planning on going on another fossil dig,” said Mrs Baldry.
“This was the first dig she has been on and she has done another one since she found the big fossil and she now has a collection of small ammonites “Even on the beach on holiday she is always
looking out for them.”
Palaeontologist Neville Hollingworth was very excited when he saw what Emily had discovered, saying that he had been looking for the fossil for 25 years and had only ever found three. He said:
“This ammonite is a very very rare specimen, as only fragments of this type have been found previously in the UK.
“It would have lived in the Tethyan ocean, a much deeper warmer sea to the south, and was spending its holidays here 162.8 million years ago.”
Emily’s father Jon, who works for Swedish company Transmode, said: “It is an exciting thing for a child of that age to go through.
“It’s fantastic to see the work that Neville (the paelontologist) has put in to restoring it, taking it from a great big lump of mud to something that looks quite good, and it is also a very rare
“We had only just started digging when we hit this lump so we dug around it to see what it was.
“We knew it was obviously something very big and Nev came over to help and got very excited about it and that’s when we knew how important it was.”