An Englishman’s pet beagle named Crystal appears to have the strange ability to sniff out and unearth prehistoric bones buried in the ground.
“You got other minerals [in the bones] which have different smells which we might not be able to smell but beagles like Crystal would be able to,” Crystal’s owner and paleontologist Jamie Jordan told CTV News Channel.
Over the past several years, the beagle has been able to sniff out a handful of ancient animal bones. In 2016, she sniffed out the leg bone of a woolly rhino that died more than 200,000 years ago.
“She’s found quite a few ice age bones from woolly rhinoceros to buffalos and even fragments of [a] woolly mammoth,” Jordan said, adding Crystal has also found prehistoric sea urchins, squids and ammonites -- also known as marine mollusks.
Most pet owners swear their dogs take after them but in this case, Crystal appears to be a fellow paleontologist.
Since becoming her owner, Jordan said he’s been training Crystal to sniff out the organic material left inside of some prehistoric bones which can give off a “noxious smell.” For other fossils, Jordan said Crystal has learned how to sniff out the minerals in some bones that can give off a sulphur-like smell.
“I’ve always had a fascination with fossils since the age of four,” he said, explaining that he was inspired to train Crystal after learning about English paleontologist Mary Anning -- who also had a dog who could sniff out fossils.
Anning, one of Jordan’s personal heroes, collected and sold fossils during the early nineteenth century.
“She was the first ever fossil hunter,” Jordan said. “I read so much about her … she even had a dog named Trey that she trained her to hunt out fossils and I’ve wanted to do the same thing.”
So once Jordan got his first dog, he said teaching her how to sniff out fossils was “the first thing” he did. Jordan said he rewards her with treats whenever she found bones.
More on this story from CTVNews.ca