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Cape Cod First Massachusetts Resident

Not the Pilgrims, not the Vikings, not the Indians were the first residents of Massachusetts. Yet the earliest resident of Massachusetts, of which we know anything, lived not far from Plymouth in Braintree, as a matter of fact over five hundred million years ago!

In Quincy, on the coast about thirty miles north of Plymouth, and near the great shipbuilding yards in that city, there is an old quarry once worked for its slate. In operating the quarry, many fossils of extreme antiquity were recovered. The fossils belong to a family of crustaceans or shellfish, called trilobite. The trilobite is a far-distant cousin of the lobster and the horseshoe crab of today.

The trilobites sprawled and crawled about on the muddy tidal flats of what is now Massachusetts Bay. They were in fear of no man, for no man lived here. No one can tell what the land above the edge of the mud flats looked like then, for the period when the trilobites resided here was followed by tremendous earthquakes. These shattered the floor of the sea, heaving it up and then lowering it, to drop the whole section of land now called Greater Boston well below sea level.

It was then that the slates of Quincy (including Braintree), Squantum (a part of Quincy), and Somerville (near Boston), were formed. The trilobites disappeared from the mud flats, but his fossils were preserved for our wondering eyes when geologists should later recover them from the quarry slate.

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Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 05/15/06
Categories: HistoryNature
Keywords: history, geology, nature, horseshoe crab, trilobite


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