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Tiny fish fossil is a rare find for instructor at BYU-Idaho

Published: Saturday, Jan. 21 2012 9:22 p.m. MST

REXBURG, Idaho — A tiny fish fossil found by a Brigham Young University-Idaho biology instructor a decade ago has been recognized as a previously unknown fish species.

Dave Stricklan found the 3-centimeter specimen in the Manning Canyon Shale Formation near Lehi in north-central Utah. The university announced Thursday that experts identified the fossil as a new species last month.

"This area is famous for plants, but virtually no fish have been found, until now," Stricklan told KIFI-TV. "It has been an exciting process because it indicates that the area may have been marine, something not thought of before. It gives me more than just another story to share in class, but puts me in contact with people on the cutting edge of science."

The fossil is named Bourbonnella jocelynae in memory of Stricklan's daughter, Jocelyn.

The journal of Vertebrate Paleontology recently described the fossil. Experts said the fossil is the earliest known representative of its kind from North America and leads to potential investigations into whether a marine connection exists between North America and Europe 325 million years ago.

Stricklan in 1984, searching in the same sediments, found a new species of fossil insect named Brodioptera stricklani.

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