The TRMF and PRPRC decided to literally put some teeth into the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery exhibits which are due to reopen to the public on May 15th. The TRMF, with financial support from Western Diversification?s Pine Beetle Recovery Grant and generous cooperation with the Black Hills Institute in South Dakota, purchased a replica mount of a very large meat-eating dinosaur called Acrocanthosaurus atokensis (High-spined lizard). Acrocanthosaurus was closely related to Allosaurus fragilis and was one of the last of the allosaurids and it lived over 100 million years ago. Tyrannosaurs, including T. rex are found in much younger sediments than allosaurids. T.rex itself was one of the very last of the non-avian dinosaurs to exist before they all went extinct 65 million years ago.
Acrocanthosaurus remains are found in Oklahoma and Texas, but have not been found in Canada to date. It is a fair question to ask what connection this animal may have to the Peace Region. The tracks and trackways of large meat-eating dinosaurs have been well known from this area since the 1920?s and are closely correlative in age to the Acrocanthosaurus-bearing sediments of Texas and Oklahoma. The famous and flooded track sites from the Peace River Canyon near Hudson?s Hope showed evidence of Acrocanthosaurus-sized theropods roaming around. There are also footprints and trackways of large theropods close to Tumbler Ridge from the same formation that local coal mines are working. It makes it much easier for people to appreciate the track sites that they can visit near Tumbler Ridge if they can visualize the size and grandeur of the track makers. Now they will be able to see the track-makers first-hand at the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery
PRPRC staff and volunteers have begun work on preparing the unassembled replica bones for mounting in the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery. This is an enormous task which is anticipated to be complete by the opening. Preparation involves the unglamorous task of sanding out the seams on the cast bones as well as painting and antiquing them. Holes will have to be carefully drilled through the backbone elements to house the steel support framework that will then have to be welded into place.
On Friday March 6th a second replica mount arrived, this time a non-dinosaur replica of an animal called Champsosaurus laramiensis, which is a crocodile-like reptile that survived the extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs. PRPRC scientists discovered the first bones from British Columbia identifiable as Champsosaurus. The replica mount was recently purchased with funding provided by a BC 150 grant which also provided funds for another Dinosaur Discovery Gallery exhibit project as well as the creation of brochures for the TRMF?s Community Centre displays. These recent exhibits will not be the last additions to the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery as the TRMF volunteers and PRPRC staff will continue to bring the prehistory of British Columbia to life in Tumbler Ridge. Please visit www.tumblerridgemuseum.com for information on the upcoming re-opening as well as educational programs and events.