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Cracking into the Past

Last Friday, February 28, 2020, SAC students from both the middle school and upper school had an interactive, hands-on experience with fossils discovered in the Toronto-area.

Guided by our local fossil enthusiast, Dash McGorman, students identified parts of various ancient species that have been extinct for hundreds of millions of years. By cracking open pieces of shale that were collected in the Don River, students witnessed the unveiling of fossils that had never before been seen by human eyes.

In the rocks, students were able to uncover fossilized body segments of species that are now completely extinct, as well as ancient ancestors that modern-day species have evolved from. Among the fossils found in the rocks were various species of trilobites (now extinct), fossilized shells of ancient brachiopods, and pieces of ancient crinoids, which are ancestors of modern-day starfish.

Students also found evidence of ancient nautiloid cephalopods called orthocones, which are believed to be a hard-shelled ancestor of present-day squids. In certain rocks, students were surprised with the discovery of fool’s gold, which can form when the minerals in the original organism are replaced by glittery pyrite.

By the end of the day, the SAC boys collectively found and identified over 100 individual fossils from the local rock samples brought in. Based on the species identified, the age of the rock was estimated to be between 365 to 450 million years old.

Through their examination and analysis of these fossils, students developed an understanding of how species adapt to survive their changing environment over time.

By sharing his love for exploring his local community, Dash reminds us that is not only easy to continue learning outside the classroom, but it can also be rewarding as well!

Story by Jessica Zhou
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St. Andrew's College
15800 Yonge Street, Aurora, ON L4G 3H7 Canada
Tel: 905-727-3178