I?m rather tardy in reporting on the subject of this week?s MP Report. It concerns an event that took place a couple of weeks ago, but since the story took about 93 million years to unfold, I figured another week or two wouldn?t make much difference.
Earlier this month, I was honoured to be invited on a personal tour of British Columbia?s newest ?Dinosaur Country? in Tumbler Ridge. My tour guides included palaeontologists Rich McCrea and Lisa Buckley of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation and Tumbler Ridge Councillor Rose Colledge.
Though the vast assortment of dinosaur tracks and bones present in the area is impressive enough, it?s the story of how these rich archaeological treasures were uncovered that is the most fascinating aspect of Tumbler Ridges? dinosaur fame.
Were it not for two very adventurous young boys who went looking for a tubing and swimming excursion one day in 2000, there would be no story to tell. Daniel Helm had explored the mountains, creeks, rapids, waterfalls and wilderness with his family many times near their home in Tumbler Ridge. Yet it was when he and his friend, Mark, went inner tubing on some local rapids that this discovery was made.
That summer, Daniel and Mark were so certain they had found what every adventurous child dreams of discovering – dinosaur tracks – that they contacted Dr. McCrea, one of North America?s top dinosaur footprint experts. When Dr. McCrea arrived to check it out the next summer, he confirmed that the lengthy dinosaur trackway was made by an ankylosaur. Even more exciting, Dr. McCrea uncovered something the boys had missed: a dinosaur bone.
That set in motion a hunt for more dinosaur evidence by Daniel, Mark, their friends and many other enthusiasts, which resulted in the eventual discovery of numerous dinosaur fossils, footprints, bones ? and a dinosaur skeleton. These incredible finds laid the foundation for the establishment of the Tumbler Ridge Museum and Dinosaur Centre.
The rock at Cabin Pool, the location of the boys? swimming adventures, has the biggest known collection of prints in BC. Dinosaurs unearthed in Alberta rocks are roughly 65 to 75 million years old. The Tumbler Ridge dinosaur skeleton is in rocks 93 million years old, a time period from which there have been very few dinosaur bones discovered anywhere in the world.
Tumbler Ridge is now the home of the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre and BC?s Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnolo recently accepted to become the Honourary Patron for the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation. The Foundation?s incredible success and growth is largely due to the dedication of Daniel?s father, Dr. Charles Helm, Rose Colledge, Rich McCrea, Lisa Buckley and the keen interest in the Tumbler Ridge discoveries by world-renowned palaeontologist Dr. Philip Currie.
But it?s Daniel and Mark to whom we owe the greatest thanks for this incredible booming tourist destination and scientific wonder located right here in our riding of Prince George-Peace River. I only wish I hadn?t waited so long to discover it for myself. If you?d like more information about Tumbler Ridge?s dinosaurs, go to www.tumblerridgemuseum.com.