A geology student from Halifax is investigating a set of fossil tracks he found on the South Shore of P.E.I. that may be 290 million years old.

Matt Stimson and Danielle Horne found the prints on a rock on the shore near Belfast Highland Greens golf course. They were looking for fossils along the shore, but never expected to find anything as impressive as what they uncovered.


Matt Stimson and Danielle Horne pose with the fossil trackway they found on P.E.I.'s South Shore, estimated to be 290 million years old. With them is resident Dennis Halliday, who helped them recover the find. (Submitted by Matt Stimson)

"We both got very excited, as a paleontologist, you know hollering like a kid in a candy store opening a Christmas present or something," said Stimson.

Stimson says the prints look like they may have been made by an amphibian, or a reptile, or something in between. He estimates the prints were made 290 million years ago.

Even at that age, these would not be the oldest footprints Stimson has dealt with. Though he is still a student, Stimson has already received credit in a scientific journal for his work on a 315-million-year-old trackway found in Joggins, N.S.

This recent find still needs to be curated and studied in depth before anything can be determined for certain, said Stimson.

Belfast Highland Greens general manager Keir White says prehistoric footprints aren't the usual find along the golf course's shoreline.

"Find lots of golf balls," said White.

"One thing that is unique about this place is they are the highest cliffs on P.E.I. At one point off our course, it's 160 feet (50 metres) high. There's lots of erosion. So that sort of unearths things like this."

This would not be the first trackway of this age found on the Island, but Stimson said this would only be the third documented discovery.

He hopes to research the prints and publish the findings with help from other experts. He is now trying to find out what the provincial rules are about fossils and what can happen with them.