Friday, 25 March 2011

Local Discovery 110 Million years old

During my weekly newspaper read of the Fort McMurray Today paper, I was instantly captured by the front page headlines yesterday morning; More Fossil than Fuel: dinosaur bones discovered. What? Did I just read that right? It’s an Oh My Gosh moment for me and as I read on with excitement about the find, goose bumps fill my arms and I can’t wait to share this information with everyone I know.

The article indicates that this past Monday, a shovel operator at Suncor noticed something sticking out of the overburden where he was digging. He stopped work immediately to notify his Supervisor, who in turn notified the on-site geologist. They all agreed to call in the experts from the Royal Tyrrell Museum to help identify the find. The article goes on to state that the fossil may be of a dinosaur known as an ankylosaur and could date as far back as 110 million years old.

Above Image: Ankylosaurs, Euoplocephalus, top, with it's relative, Edmontonia, below. Artwork by John Sibbick. Taken from

What is absolutely astonishing about this find is that the ankylosaur is a land based dinosaur, unlike the marine reptiles such as the plesiosaur and ichthyosaur found in previous years. Speculations and theories are already circulating about how the dinosaur came to find its way in what was once a vast water bodied area.



Below is a section of the Today article (the image above is also from the article), to view the entire document click here.

A significant fossil find has been uncovered at a Suncor Energy mine, about 50 kilometres north of Fort McMurray. Officials from the Royal Tyrell Museum have already been on the site documenting the find which suggests the bones could belong to an ankylosaur, and date back about 110 million years.
To put it in perspective, the age of the dinosaurs from Dinosaur Provincial Park are about 75 million years old, pointed out Leanna Mohan of the museum. The best known of the armoured dinosaurs, ankylosaurus was the last and largest of the ankylosaurids. Its tough skin was covered with bony plates, and it could swing its formidably clubbed tail to render a predator lame. This dinosaur — roaming the earth in the late cretaceous period — is known from fossils found in Montana and Alberta.

According to Mohan, the discovery is a significant find because the almost whole fossil has been "preserved very well." Museum experts flew up to the site Tuesday night to verify the find made Monday in an overburden area of the mine where work has been temporarily suspended until the fossil is removed. "They thought it was a marine reptile which is what is normally found in the oilsands and it turns out it's an actual dinosaur," she added...

1 comment: