Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation
Box 1348 Tumbler Ridge, BC V0C 2W0
Contact: Dr Charles Helm, Vice President – 250 242
4251 (w) 250 242 3984 (h)
Rich McCrea, Palaeontologist - 250 242 3466
July 26, 2004
Tyrannosaurs, dromaeosaurs and hadrosaurs in British Columbia….
in the first of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation’s (T.R.M.F)
summer lecture series, palaeontologists Rich McCrea and Lisa
Buckley unveiled some of the highlights of their 2004 field season
The wet weather of early July caused a two week delay in the
Museum Foundation’s main dinosaur dig (discovered in
2002 and commenced in 2003). However, following up on the recently
reported local dinosaur bone finds of John and Maureen Schulting,
the palaeontologists made good use of this time prospecting
in the rocks of the Upper Cretaceous Wapiti Formation near
Ridge. Within days they had surface-collected dozens of new
dinosaur bones, including some diagnostic material.
The most interesting specimens found were the shed teeth of
theropods (meat-eating dinosaurs). One of these is a portion
of a large
tooth from the tyrannosaurid family, possibly that of an
Albertasaurus. A small, beautifully preserved tooth can be confidently
as belonging to Saurornitholestes, a small velociraptorine
predator that is a relative to the “raptors” of
Jurassic Park fame. A partial jaw discovered by visiting palaeontologist
Budney (Dalhousie University) contains row upon row of teeth,
of a type that is characteristic of a hadrosaur (duck-billed)
dinosaur, which were plant-eaters. The above mentioned finds
are all firsts for British Columbia. Additional finds included
dinosaur tendons and crocodilian and turtle fragments.
These new discoveries pose an interesting challenge for the
Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre (P.R.P.R.C). The newly
discovered bones are fragile and are vulnerable to the elements.
Therefore, work on these Wapiti Formation (approximately 75 million
years old) dinosaurs is planned to begin as soon as possible
in the fall of 2004, after the completion of this year’s
excavation of the older Kaskapau Formation (approximately 93
million years old) dinosaurs, which has resumed with the recent
good weather. The bones at the older Kaskapau Formation dig site
are the oldest in western Canada, from an age that has very little
known dinosaur material world-wide, and at the time of their
discovery in 2002 were BC’s only known accumulation
of dinosaur bone. Over a hundred bones have now been collected
this excavation to date.
The younger B.C. dinosaurs are found in rocks from the same
formation (Wapiti Formation) as the well-known dinosaur
being excavated from several localities in the Grande Prairie
region of Alberta. These recent finds are of tremendous
importance to British Columbia and may also contribute significantly
to the understanding of the dinosaurs from this formation
is shared between British Columbia and Alberta.
The material recovered from these excavations will be taken
to the P.R.P.R.C., where it will be stored, prepared and
researched, and eventually displayed. Thanks to matching
this centre is rapidly acquiring the necessary tools and
equipment to accomplish this.
In uncovering this ancient history, history is truly in
the making in Tumbler Ridge. With these discoveries, it
British Columbia is not as poor in dinosaur remains as
was previously thought. Dinosaurs are the world’s number one tourist drawcard,
and the opportunities for tourism and education for Tumbler Ridge
and the Peace Region are being realized. A “northern dino
tour” is being planned, showcasing the palaeontological
treasures of northern BC and Alberta communities for tourists.