This young girl was on a fishing trip with her family. She had no idea what was in store for her. She was about to make an ancient discovery.
We’ve all heard the tales of the Lake Monster and the Black Lagoon. But people don’t really ever find such things, right? Or so we thought. An eleven-year-old from Tennessee made an incredible discovery. While on a fishing trip with her family, Ryleigh saw something in the water, but she couldn’t really tell what it was from a distance. As soon as she got closer, she realized something was staring back at her. Once she understood what it was, she was in shock.
Ryleigh Taylor is home-schooled by her parents. She’s a pretty normal kid, except for one thing. She made a scientific discovery that veteran scientists can’t help but be envious of. Ryleigh has always been a lover of learning and she also appreciates being taught outside. Despite all of that, she never expected to make such an incredible discovery. One day, she went out on a fishing trip with her family, but no one could have predicted that her life would be changed forever.
One day, Ryleigh didn’t really feel like having class. She loved learning, but she was still a kid. Her mom, Tammy, needed to come up with a plan of action. Parents are typically put in awkward positions when they teach their children at home. But Tammy came up with an incredible plan. She would bring Ryleigh fishing and use it as an opportunity to learn about the great outdoors. It turned about to be one of the best things she’s ever done for Ryleigh.
Tammy spent a lot of time teaching outside, but the lake was a new destination. She planned on taking her family to Douglas Lake. Even though it was a great teaching opportunity, it could prove to be problematic. A fishing trip would give Ryleigh a lot of distractions, and she was already a little bit absent-minded. And there wasn’t a lot of shade on the shoreline, but Tammy was done with doubting her teaching abilities. She was already getting slack from other parents.
Parenting is by no means an easy job, especially when you have an unorthodox way of raising them. Unfortunately, the mainstream community looks down on homeschooling children. The other moms passed a lot of judgment on Tammy. Her ability to effectively teach her child was constantly being questioned. She was becoming exhausted from all of the criticism, and she was close to giving up. She almost sent Ryleigh to public school, but the world is grateful that she didn’t.
Even though she was receiving a lot of judgment, Tammy refused to give up. She knew that her child’s classroom shouldn’t be defined by space, and she loved teaching Ryleigh outdoors. On this day, Tammy decided to teach at their favorite fishing spot. The whole family went to Douglas Lake, and it would prove to be the best thing Tammy could do as a teacher. If Ryleigh wasn’t homeschooled at Douglas Lake she never would have made this discovery.
It was mid-afternoon and the sun was beating down on them. The heat, combined with the weight of the fishing pole, began to get to Ryleigh. The longer she fished, the more Ryleigh began to stumble. Tammy became worried that Ryleigh would get sunstroke. She quickly gave Ryleigh some water to drink, and encouraged her to take a break to explore the shade on the shoreline. The guidance from her mother led Ryleigh to a remarkable discovery.
Ryleigh didn’t need to be told twice, and she ran off to explore. She ran to the shoreline and immediately began to feel better. She wasn’t tired from the fishing rod anymore, so she explored the area. It was a beautiful day, so Ryleigh decided to check out the water. After taking her first step into the water, Ryleigh couldn’t believe what she was looking at.
It’s not easy to be an explorer, especially when you’re trying to navigate a shoreline full of rocks. Ryleigh found this out very quickly. She constantly needed to pay attention to the path she was walking because the shoreline was unbelievably rocky. Things could get really bad if she were to fall, but even the most cautious explorers take their eyes off the path sometimes. That’s exactly what Ryleigh did and the worst possible thing happened as she lost her footing.
All of a sudden, Ryleigh stumbled. As Ryleigh looked down, something caught her eye. A creature began to emerge from the rocks. Ryleigh was taken by surprise. It was huge! She immediately screamed for her parents, telling them to come fast. But her parents thought she was just letting her imagination get the best of her. That’s when Ryleigh got the courage to pick up the creature. She brought it to her parents and they couldn’t believe it.
Knowing she had found something very special, Ryleigh rushed back to her parents. And she was right about that. The little girl found what she thought was a massive bug, but once she looked closer, she realized it was actually a fossil! But no one knew how rare of a find it actually was, until they contacted a local professor. What the professor would have to say about their find was absolutely astonishing.
“It’s about as old as you can get,” said professor of Paleobiology, Dr. Colin Sumrall. He explained how magnificent of a find Ryleigh had found. She had actually stumbled across an ancient creature called a trilobite. What’s even more rare is that Ryleigh found a fully intact fossil, which almost never happens! During the fossilization process, the trilobite’s exoskeleton usually gets broken down. Unbelievably, Ryleigh managed to find a whole one 475-million years later! The repercussions of her discovery are simply overwhelming!
Thanks to Ryleigh being homeschooled, she was able to find this incredible creature. She wouldn’t have had time to do this if she was stuck in a classroom. This proves that homeschooling your child can give them more than what a classroom does. Tammy was over the moon with Ryleigh’s discovery. Thanks to Tammy’s choice to homeschool her daughter, Ryleigh is now a household name. But Ryleigh and her discovery were just seeing the beginning.
Ryleigh’s discovery received so much exposure that local news teams wanted to cover it. This fossil was one of the oldest ever found in the area. Also, Ryleigh had scientists oozing with envy for her. “It’s actually fairly unusual for someone to find a fossil,” said Sumrall. The paleobiologist was 20 years old when he found his first fossil. So what does Ryleigh’s future hold for her? Big dreams, of course.
“To find something like that, it could spark this youngster into a whole career” says Sumrall. And that’s exactly what Ryleigh wants to do. Ryleigh has caught the paleo-fever. She wants to share her remarkable find with kids her own age and she wants to inspire them to put down their phone and get outside. The future is unknown for this little girl, but whatever it is, it’s going to be huge!