July 16, 2003

Palaeontologist Rich McCrea, team leader of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation’s dinosaur excavation project, addressed an enthusiastic audience of a hundred and ten residents and visitors in the Tumbler Ridge Public Library Wednesday 16 July. McCrea is one of the top three dinosaur footprint experts in North America.

He reviewed the fascinating story of exploration, started by local kids, which has led to the discovery of dinosaur footprints in all nine canyons so far targeted. Skin impressions and dewclaw impressions, BC’s longest accessible trackway, the province’s biggest currently visible collection of footprints, and a pathological footprint are amongst the highlights of these discoveries.

He then went on to discuss the chance find of BC’s first (and western Canada’s oldest) accumulation of dinosaur bones in a Tumbler Ridge canyon last summer, and illustrated the work currently in progress. Over $30000 had to be raised by the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation, allowing a helicopter to fly in a 25 KW generator which powers two air compressors , which in turn enable the team of palaeontological experts to dissect the rock with air hammers and air scribes.

Bone has now been discovered in six blocks of rock in the canyon bottom, as well as in a number of places on the surrounding cliffs, legitimizing the use of the term "bonebed". Most of the work done over the past three weeks has involved removing overburden, but in the last few days the scientists are coming across increasing numbers of new bones, and are approaching the main bone-bearing layers.

The next few weeks should prove very exciting. McCrea will provide further public updates on the progress of the dig. He indicated that there are years of potential work that could be done at this site.
The bones excavated this year will be flown into Tumbler Ridge. The Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation is currently acquiring a suitable home for them, including storage, preparation and display space, that will allow visitors to appreciate this ancient northeastern BC treasure as it is dissected out of its encasing rock over the next few years.

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