Thursday, 26 January 2017

MIDDLE TRIASSIC-ANISIAN AMMONOID

A specimen of Grambergia sp., a Middle Triassic-Ansian ammonoid from the Toad Formation of northeastern British Columbia.

EOCENE LOVE BUG

The Love Boat, soon you'll be sailing away... Well, perhaps you will but that ship has sailed for this wee fellow.

This is a Fossil Love Bug, one of the most satisfying fossils to collect in the Eocene deposits of Princeton, British Columbia.

Love Bugs or March Flies are hardy, medium-sized flies in the Order Diptera, with a body length ranging from 4.0 to 10.0 mm. The body is black, brown, or rusty, and thickset, with thick legs. The antennae are moniliform. The front tibiae bear large strong spurs or a circlet of spines. The tarsi are five-segmented and bear tarsal claws, pulvilli, and a well-developed empodium.

As it is with many species, these guys included, the teens of this species are troublesome but the adults turn out alright. As larvae, Bibionidae are pests of agricultural crops, devouring all those tasty young seedlings you've just planted.

Then, as they mature their tastes turn to the nectar of flowers from fruit trees and la voila, they become your best friends again. With their physical and behavioral transformation complete, Bibionidae become a welcome garden visitor, pulling their weight in the ecosystems they live in by being important pollinators.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

TUMBLER RIDGE DINOSAUR TRACKWAY

Heidi Henderson with Daniel & Charles Helm, Tumbler Ridge
In 2000, Mark Turner and Daniel Helm were tubing down the rapids of Flatbed Creek just below Tumbler Ridge.

As they walked up the shoreline excitement began to build as they quickly recognized a series of regular depressions as dinosaur footprints.

Their discovery spurred an infusion of tourism and research in the area and the birth of the Peace Region Palaeontology Society and Dinosaur Centre.

The Hudson's Hope Museum has an extensive collection of terrestrial and marine fossils from the area. They feature ichthysaurs, a marine reptile and hadrosaur tracks.

The tracks the boys found were identified the following year by Rich McCrae as those of a large quadrupedal dinosaur, Tetrapodosaurus borealis, an ichnotaxon liked to ankylosaurs.

Closer study and excavation of the area yielded a 25 cm dinosaur bone thus doubling the number of dinosaur bones known from British Columbia at the time.

The dinosaur finds near Tumbler Ridge are significant. Several thousand bone fragments have been collected, recorded and now reside within the PRPRC collections, making for one of the most complete assemblages for dinosaur material from this age.

Recently, Liz Nicholls wrote up an ichthyosaur from the Upper Triassic Pardonet Formation, Shonisaurus sikanniensis. This big fellow is estimated to have grown to 21 metres (69 FT) in length, making him the largest marine reptile on record.

This find might never have happened or been hugely delayed if not for the keen eyes of two young boys. All this from a days tubing on the river.

Some of these precious fossil sites are threatened by the Site C Dam. More than the fossils, the Dam will destroy one of the world's precious wildlife corridors and submerge valuable carbon sinks and agricultural land therein threatening instead of promoting food security in the North.

The true reveal for the paleontological significance is still to come. There are Triassic marine outcrops in northern British Columbia that extend from Wapiti Lake to the Yukon border. I'm excited for the future of paleontology in the region as more of these fruitful outcrops are discovered, collected and studied.

Monday, 16 January 2017

AMMONITE CRUSHED BY PREDATOR

Here a partial ammonite with lovely oil-spill coloured nacre (ammolite) shows several bite marks.

One of the natural predators to ammonites were the marine reptiles, particularly mosasaurs and elasmosaurs.

Mosasaurs, while robust predators, lived nearer to the ocean surface, preying on fish, turtles, birds, and sadly for this fellow, ammonites.

Ammonites were also prey to the elasmosaurs, a genus of plesiosaur that lived in the Late Cretaceous. With their long necks, the could move unseen in the depths then chomp down with their cage-like teeth to munch on fish and those unfortunate enough to be the tasty bounty of ancient times.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

FLORISSANTIA SP. (STERCULIACEAE)

Florissantia, an extinct genus in the Cocoa Tree Family
Beautifully preserved specimens of Florissantia can be found in the Eocene deposits near Cache Creek in the Tranquile Formation, Kamloops Group, at Quilchena, Coldwater Beds, Kamloops Group and near Princeton, British Columbia in the Allenby Formation.

This specimen is from the Allenby Formation, which is predominately fine-grained shales and mudrocks. Florissantia are quite commonly found here alongside other plant remains and rarer, insect and fish fossils.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Friday, 6 January 2017

SHELTER POINT, VANCOUVER ISLAND

Shelter Point on northern Vancouver Island is a lovely beach site and part of the Oyster Bay Formation, located just off the Island Highway, about 10km south of downtown Campbell River.  

At the northern end of Shelter Bay, turn east onto Heard Road, which ends at a public access to Shelter Point. A low tide is necessary in order to collect from these shales. I also recommend rubber boots and eye protection. This is a good family trip.   

The fossils, mainly the crab, Longusorbis and the straight ammonite Baculites, occur only in the gritty concretions that weather out of the shale. Aside from the fossils, check out the local tidepools and larger sea life in the area. Seals and playful otters can be seen basking on the beaches.

CRETACEOUS STEW: INOCERAMUS CLAMS

These oyster-like clams were common through the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The presence of certain fossil Inoceramus species allows geologists to date specific formations.

The entire group went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous, as did the ammonites and the dinosaurs.
This specimen from Hornby Island is approximately 67 million years old. They were was found a perfect sunny day while collecting with Graham Beard, author of West Coast Fossils and Chair of the Vancouver Island Museum Paleontological Society. Graham has a keen eye and knack for finding the best specimens on the island.

Visit his collection at the Qualicum Museum on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. It is well worth the trip!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

THEROPOD TRACK, TUMBLER RIDGE

Rich McCrea, Dinosaur Track Specialist & Heidi Henderson

Monday, 2 January 2017

ANKYLOSAUR TRACKWAY

After an exciting hike in the dark through the woods and down a steep incline, we reached the river. The tracks in this photo are from a type of armored dinosaur that date to the very end of the Cretaceous, between 68-66 million years ago.

Imagine a meandering armored tank munching on ferns and low-growing vegetation.

This is a photograph of an ankylosaur trackway filled with water and lit by lamplight along Wolverine River, a research site of Lisa Buckley, one of two magnificent paleontologists working in the area. 

Some of the prints contain skin impressions, which is lucky as many of the prints are so shallow that they can only be recognized by the skin impressions.

There are two types of footprints at the Wolverine River Tracksite - theropods (at least four different sizes) and ankylosaurs. Filling the prints with water and using light in a clever way was a genius idea for viewing tracks that are all but invisible in bright sunlight by day.

Sunday, 1 January 2017