SMYRNA, Tenn. - A retiree in Smyrna got the surprise of her life recently. Betty LeMaster discovered that the rock she'd been using as a doorstop for 16 years was actually a 450-million-year-old fossilized coral.
LeMaster found what she first thought was just a unique rock in her front yard more than a decade ago, but always thought there was something more to it.
After her husband reassured her it was probably nothing more than a unique-looking rock, she decided to keep it, and use it as a doorstop inside her home.
But recently, she said while she was watching an episode of the geological TV series "America Unearthed," she thought to get the rock checked out by a geologist to find out about it.
The geologist, MTSU professor Alan Brown, said he immediately could tell what it was: not a rock, but a ten-pound fossilized coral, estimated to be about 450-million years old.
"I couldn't believe it, and my daughter looked at me and said, 'You used it as a door prop for 16 years!'," LeMaster said. "Needless to say its not a door prop anymore."
Brown said 450 million years ago, Tennessee was part of a shallow sea bed, so old fossils aren't that hard to find, but a fossil the size of Betty's is.