CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (NEWSPLEX) -- A geology project at Sherando Lake led to an amazing find for a student at Piedmont Virginia Community College.
The student, science major Angela Nebel, was working on a project for her supervised study course and what she found took her back in time by millions of years.
It started as any other day, with Nebel heading out to work on another geology project.
"Last semester, I made my supervised study in geology, and I selected Sherando Lake Rock Slide," said Nebel.
She says she wanted to know when and how the rock slide formed, but while she was there she found more than what she was expecting.
"I found the fossils there," said Nebel.
To some people, they might just look like rocks, but they're a key to history.
"There were really a lot of fossils," said Nebel. "I think it was amazing."
Her professor Larry Tiezzi shared the same sentiment.
"I think the most important part about it is the fact that it demonstrates how science should work," he said.
Not only did she complete her assignment, Tiezzi says it led her to ask more questions, to be curious and to become a real scientist.
Tiezzi says that is what it's all about.
"She also looked at all the data that was there and found some of the oldest fossils in Virginia at this location," said Tiezzi. "They had not been identified there before."
After finding the rock fossil, it had to be dated, and the timeline was a shocker for Nebel.
"Five-hundred million years ago, 500 million," she exclaimed.
The rock fossil is grouped in the Atdabanian Formation of the Cambrian Period. Though the type of rock fossils are common, the date is not.
Her findings will be presented at the National Geological Society of America Conference, and Nebel is the only community college student presenting in her subject area.
"I like science a lot," said Nebel. "I think now is the perfect opportunity."
Nebel graduates from PVCC in 2016 and plans to continue her studies at James Madison University.