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Scallop fisherman boasts impressive fossil collection

Collector Patrick Moss says he has been told these are leg bones from an unspecified dinosaur.
Collector Patrick Moss says he has been told these are leg bones from an unspecified dinosaur.

To the amateur eye the display case full of lumpy, colourless rocks may seem unimpressive.

Scallop fisherman Patrick Moss holds one of his prized fossils.

Devoted collectors, on the other hand, would see a treasure trove of artifacts millennia in the making.

Patrick Moss didn’t set out to collect fossils and dinosaur bones. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time. “I was a scallop fisherman in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. We fished in Georges Banks, the famous Georges Banks,” said Moss.

After the fishing moratorium he was hired on to harvest scallops off Georges Bank. The boat used a 2000 pound rake to drag shellfish off the ocean floor, and with them came fossils, bones and even a piece of pottery.

According to Moss, one scallop fossil — weighing between 35 and 40 pounds — is hundreds of millions of years old. Another has visible traces of primitive worms, and then there’s a pair of what Moss believes are dinosaur leg bones.

“I had a geologist years ago looked at this and that’s what he told me this was,” he said. “That’s a dinosaur bone.”

Moss has reached out to several museums, including the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, but has repeatedly declined requests to donate his fossils. Instead he hopes to sell the pieces and retire from scallop fishing.

That may be easier said than done. Like most provinces, Newfoundland has strict regulations about the ownership and sale of fossils under the Historic Resources Act.

Moss continues to reach out to others who might steer him in the right direction, including a paleontologist based in Utah, who has promised to pass them on to a couple of his colleagues.

“He said it was an amazing, amazing collection,” claimed Moss, who intends to continue seeking his fortune selling fossils, so he can enjoy his hard-earned retirement.

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