Doctor Dinosaur designation takes on new meaning

Trent Ernst, Editor


He’s been called Doctor Dinosaur, though most people around here just call him Charles.

Doctor Charles Helm has been one of the most passionate proponents of paleontology since his son discovered dinosaur tracks along Flatbed Creek

But it was only this year that his name became synonymous with one particular species, quite literally, as a species of Icthyosaur has been named after him.

Gulosaurus helm is a species of Ichtyosar that was found in the area around Wapiti Lake. Researcher Robin Cuthbertson made the announcement at the recent Geopark symposium.

“Robin ended his talk with this bombshell that there was this new species and that he had chosen to make the species name helmi, after my last name,” says Charles. “It really was an honour. This represents the teamwork here in Tumbler Ridge, whether it is exploring the canyons for dinosaur footprints, or going up onto these mountains and discovering all these fossil fishes and marine reptiles records, it’s been a team effort and a family effort. I somehow got the recognition, but it’s been a team effort, including so many kids that have gone out over the last decade.”

The Gulosaurus helmi is the only species in the genus Gulosaurus, which was also identified as part of the research that Cuthbertson and a team of researchers at the University of Calgary did on a fossil collected in 1989. The name Gulosaurus means Wolverine Lizard, and is named after the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society, which has created and maintains many trails around the Tumbler Ridge area.

The fossil was found in the Wapiti Lake area, and is currently the only place that this creature is known to have existed.

Charles says it is not the first time the family name has been added to the scientific journals. “Just about the first thought when I heard this news was taking me back to a different continent and a different century when my grandmother in South Africa discovered a new species of Haworthia which was named Haworthia Helmiae after her.”