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The fossilized lobster claw is hundreds of millions of years old. ((CBC))

Colin Dandy usually catches lobster and scallops, but last year he caught a piece of history.

The Cape Breton fisherman unearthed a fossilized lobster claw that predates the dinosaur era.

Dandy was fishing off the east coast of Cape Breton near the Bird Islands when the fossil became hooked to the back of his boat's scallop rack.

"I picked it up and hosed it off," said Dandy, who's been fishing for 30 years. "I seen it was a lobster claw but I didn't think it was that old."

The fossil is, in fact, hundreds of millions of years old, according to Dr. Stuart Critchley, the curator of the Cape Breton Fossil Centre in Sydney Mines.

"I looked at the fossil," Critchley said. "It was surrounded by a thin layer of carbon. It is the same as the carbon we see on our plant fossils here. So as an educated guess, it was formed 300 million years ago, the same time as the carboniferous era."

It’s not the first time Dandy has seen a fossil like this. He said his father unearthed two similar fossils about 50 years ago. They are now at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax.

Dandy's recent find has been donated to the Cape Breton Fossil Centre, he said, so local children will be able to view it.