Dayton man’s record fossil find remains unidentified

The question is whether specimen is animal, vegetable or mineral.

DAYTON — A mysterious 450 million-year-old fossil discovered by a local man was unveiled Tuesday at a Geological Society of America meeting at the Dayton Convention Center.

The fossil, dubbed “Godzillus,” was found last year in Northern Kentucky by amateur paleontologist Ron Fine, a 43-year-old mechanical designer from Dayton. The elliptical-shaped specimen measures 3.5-foot wide by 6.5-foot long and is believed to be the largest fossil recovered from the Cincinnati area.

The question Tuesday at the GSA North-Central section 46th annual meeting was whether it was animal, vegetable or mineral.

“We are looking for people who might have an idea of what it is,” said Ben Dattilo, an assistant professor of geology at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, who is researching the discovery.

Scientists were asked to vote on one of several theories based on the fossil’s multiple lobes and distinctive texture: It is some form of algae, a sea anemone-like animal, or an inorganic sedimentary structure.

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The discovery of a prehistoric algae would be significant because the organism’s amorphous nature makes it difficult to preserve. Fine himself thinks the fossil is a sea anemone, or polyp, according to Dattilo.

The discovery is unlikely to receive a great deal of additional study unless more specimens can be found. “Until we know where to fit it in, we don’t really know what to do with it,” he said.

Fine is a member of the Dry Dredgers, an association of amateur paleontologists based at the University of Cincinnati.

Once covered by shallow seas, the Dayton-Cincinnati region is famous for fossils and producing top paleontologists, Dattilo said.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2419 or dlarsen@DaytonDailyNews.com.

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