May 25, 2024


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A unique fossil in the Natural History Museum Maastricht | 1 Limburg

A unique fossil in the Natural History Museum Maastricht |  1 Limburg

An amateur discovered after 20 years in the Museum of Natural History in Maastricht, it turned out to be a unique fossil. There is a prehistoric starfish in the museum’s repository.

At that time, a flint containing starfish just like that found in a quarry near Eben-Emael was captured by Maastricht’s private collector Willy van Rijsselt. At the time, the quarry was open to enthusiasts and stone collectors on Saturday afternoons.

66.4 million years
Finally, Van Rijsselt took her to the Museum of Natural History, where John Jagt, the museum’s paleontologist, couldn’t believe his eyes. “You only experience this once in your life, version like this.” It is a 66.4 million year old sea star.

CT scan
Two other arms protruded from the flint, which has been very well preserved. When further research was conducted, it turned out that the entire starfish was in stone. This makes this fossil unique; It is the first complete specimen of this type of starfish to be found in the world.

The entirety of the starfish in the stone was confirmed by a CT scan of him at the hospital. A star appeared on it.

Years ago they tried to dissolve the stone with acid, but they failed. “Fortunately, there are now more advanced technologies that can show something in detail,” Jagt says. For example, micro-computed tomography will soon be done, so that a starfish, called Chomataster Breizh, can be printed in every detail as a prototype. This way, researchers and onlookers can view and keep the entire starfish as well.

The specimen belongs to a genus already described in the scientific literature in 1913, but that was then based on the discovery of loose plates and fragments of arms. This starfish deviates from that. “This is his brother. He only has spines on the arms and not on the whole body. The other one has spines all over the body, and that’s a difference in kind. Now I must be wondering why this person doesn’t have spines on the body plates” If you are hunted a lot, you get spines . If you don’t, it won’t happen quickly. From a very interesting evolutionary point of view,” Jagt says.

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a story
According to Jagt, the fact that the unique piece has been in the repository for twenty years is that scientific research should have been done first. The genre must also be described in the scientific literature, and this often takes years. “First we had to wait for the scientific publication to be published. It’s kind of a specimen, and that’s very important for science, but not yet for the average visitor to the museum, there should be a story and that wasn’t yet available. That story has been published now, so I hope we can Who showed it before Christmas!”

Listen to John Jaggett on the radio report “warehouse” From L1 Cultuurcafe.