Oldest known reptile prints found near Sackville

An English paleontologist says fossils he found on the Bay of Fundy are the earliest known footprints of reptiles ever found.

The earliest known footprints ofreptiles were discovered at the Bay of Fundy, says an English paleontologist who's been hunting fossils in New Brunswick for 11 years.

The exact locationwhere Howard Falcon-Lang found the fossils last summer,near Sackville on the Bay of Fundy,will remain secret, he said, because scientists hope to discover more.

"It's such a fantastic part of the world, because the Bay of Fundy, with its high tides, is constantly exposing new exciting rocks and fossils along the coast," he said.

The rocks he hunts are 300 million years old, dating from a time when North America was lying on the equator, covered by tropical rain forest.

He said the footprints usually found in those rocks are those of four-toed amphibians, froglike creatures.

But, in some sandstone, he found prints ofcat-sized, five-toed reptiles.

"What's really important about finding reptiles here is that these are actually the earliest known fossils we have for reptiles," he said. "Since it's a true reptile, that makes it the oldest-ever land-based animal discovered in the world."

The fossils willremain in the provinceat the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John.

Falcon-Lang said that pleases him, because it means they'll be taken care of and will remain available for research.