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Panton's "mystery" fossil sparks a scientific debate

"I am particularly interested in how the rocks of our region record the history of ocean-basin opening, closing, and the formation of mountains," she said. "Right now, I have a graduate student starting her master's research on the Middlebury, Orwell, and Panton limestones-she will study the age, environment of deposition, and burial history of these rocks."

Check it Out: For safe, accessible examples of Vermont's Panton Stone, visit the exhibits of the UVM Perkins Museum of Geology. For a fine example of Panton Stone used in attractive landscape design, look for the low rock wall near the entrance to Middlebury College's new main library. Middlebury's downtown bridge, built in the 1800s is made up, in part, of Panton Stone. A few fossils, including fragments of Receptaculites, may be seen in these rocks.

Warning: Fossil collecting without the landowner's permission is illegal in Vermont. State property also has severe restrictions regarding rock, mineral and fossil collecting. Before collecting any natural object, ask permission.

Special thanks to Dr. Char Mehrtens of UVM and the research staffs of the Middlebury College Armstrong Science Library and Ilsley Public Library for assistance in preparing this article.

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