The rock musician, Kerr Sharpe-Young, 28, of Blistered Fingers has discovered a 3 million-year-old seal fossil in a large boulder while exploring a beach in New Zealand in 2018. He said the large boulder caught his eye before discovering the fossil. It is the first living or extinct monk seal species ever found in the southern hemisphere – and the oldest ever found. Kerr dabbles in palaeontology.
Scientists had believed that all true seals originated in the northern hemisphere and crossed the equator perhaps once or twice throughout the entire evolutionary process of this species. But Kerr Sharpe-Young’s discovery tells them that many ancient seals “appear to have evolved in the southern Pacific and crisscrossed the equator up to 8 times. The discovery turns seal evolution on its head”, said James Rule a palaeontologist at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.
The discovery appears to confirm that many ancient seals including the ancestors of Antarctic seals, leopard seals, elephant seals and monk seals evolved in the southern hemisphere.
It’s been described as a triumph for citizen science! The fossil shows us that the ancient seal was more than 8 feet long and weighed at least 500 pounds. It’s been named Eomonachus belegaerensis after the Sea of Belegaer in JJR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
Kerr said that he “was pretty stoked. I’m just here to play my role in the betterment of human knowledge”. Cool response.