A FOSSILISED STARFISH found in Connemara, Co Galway has been dated at 435 million years old.
The fossil was discovered by Irish geologist Dr. Eamonn Doyle in the Maam Valley and is to go on display in the Royal Irish Academy.
Details of research into the find have been published in The Irish Journal of Earth Sciences and put the date on the fossil at almost half-a-billion years old.
Study by researchers from the USA, the Netherlands and the UK found that the fossil is of an ophiuroid starfish, commonly known as a ‘brittle star’.
This type of starfish first developed about 500 million years ago and has remained relatively similar to this day.
The fossil was found in the Maamturk mountain range because the area was previously covered by ocean, which dried up some 400 million years ago.
“The remote areas of the west of Ireland continue to yield some exceptional fossils with a significant impact on understanding of the history of life,” according to one of the researchers, Prof. David Harper of Durham University.
These unique specimens of fossil starfish from the Silurian rocks of Connemara are a key piece of evidence in the hunt for past life in the ocean that covered Ireland, some 435 million years ago.
The fossil has been named ‘Crepidosoma doyleii’ in honour of its discoverer.