Nova Scotia

350-million-year-old rocks mistaken for suspicious package at Cape Breton University

A suspicious package left last week at Cape Breton University for the school's president turned out to be nothing more than some 350-million-year-old rocks.

Police called after green reusable Sobeys bag left at Sydney university

The 350 million-year-old limestone rocks contain a fossil of rugose coral. (Jason Loxton)

A suspicious package left last week at Cape Breton University for the school's president turned out to be nothing more than some 350-million-year-old rocks.

Police were called to investigate the green reusable Sobeys bag that had David Dingwall's name on it.

Geology professor Jason Loxton said the rocks are older than the coal fields of Cape Breton and were formed at a time when the land in Nova Scotia was still under water.

"They're not scientifically super-duper important, but they are a really neat, unique set of Nova Scotia history," Loxton told CBC's Mainstreet: Cape Breton.

He was the second person officials telephoned after police.

This bag was left outside Cape Breton University's business school. The intended recipient was the university's president, David Dingwall. (Jason Loxton)

"The security guard immediately meets me and says, 'Just the man I was looking for,' which is not a thing you really want to hear from security," Loxton said.

He said he immediately knew the rocks were limestone and there was a fossil of a rugose coral, otherwise known as horn corals. 

Loxton said this was his first time he saw this in Cape Breton.

He said the person who left the package knew what they were doing when they found the rocks.

"They noted the exact geographic locality down to actual lat-long co-ordinates and wrote it on the rock," said Loxton. "I was able to quickly throw that into a map and confirm not only exactly where it came from, but confirmed my suspicions on the age of it as well."

Loxton said the rocks will remain in the geology lab, and Dingwall is welcome to check out the package that was intended for him.

Loxton is looking for the person who dropped the rocks off. He hopes they can have a chat.

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With files from CBC's Mainstreet Cape Breton

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