Go Fossil Hunting in Courtenay on Vancouver Island!

History

Where will the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Centre take you?  On a voyage of discovery through the worlds of palaeontology, geology, geography and culture, that’s where.  You can even travel 80 million years back in time as you venture on a fossil tour.

So What’s an Elasmosaur?

This most famous resident of the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology is a giant marine reptile known as an elasmosaur.  It’s the largest marine reptile fossil ever discovered in British Columbia and the first of its kind west of the Canadian Rockies.  Vancouver Island residents Mike Trask and his 12-year-old daughter Heather found the fossil along the banks of the Puntledge River in November 1988, and since then a few other specimens have been recovered from other Upper Cretaceous sites, most notably from exposures along the Trent and Englishman Rivers.

A Discovery, A Transformation

The Trask’s discovery not only rocked the quiet world of palaeontology, it transfixed the community and transformed the Museum.  The once-small county museum made the Elasmosaur location a provincial heritage site, organized the excavation of the remainder of the fossil and responded to the community’s interest by supporting further fossil research.

Other large extinct reptiles have been discovered in the area, including the crocodile-like mosasaur, a marine lizard.  Material attributed to a number of different mosasaur has been recovered from several sites along the Puntledge River and from Maastrichtian marine deposits on the North Coast of Hornby Island.

Fossil Tour, Anyone?

Experience the thrill of digging for extinct dinosaur relatives firsthand, on a docent-led tour of leafy fossil sites along the Puntledge River.  The tour, which must be booked in advance, is a short ten minute drive and an easy five minute forested walk from the Museum.

Your tour guide will describe the site’s history and explain proper collection techniques; then you get to dig in.  They supply a limited number of hammers, chisels and goggles, and here’s the best part: you get to keep any fossils that you find!  If the species is of scientific value, you may be asked to donate the fossil to the museum collection, with the finder’s name attached.

Learn more http://www.courtenaymuseum.ca/pro_tour.html

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Amazing Vancouver Island and a clickable link back to this page.

Publisher of Amazing Vancouver Island. Doug grew up in Kamloops and Vancouver. He is also the President of KIAI Angency, an Internet Marketing and Branding agency in Vancouver. He is an avid photographer and you can see his many pix of Vancouver Island on Flickr.

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