TALISMAN ENERGY AIRLIFTS 1800 LB DINOSAUR TRACKWAY

It was discovered in a creek bed ten kilometers from Tumbler Ridge in 2002: a rock slab with an ankylosaur trackway comprising nine well preserved foot and hand natural casts. No-one knows how long its features had been eroding away since it had fallen from the canyon wall and been turned over in a flood. Its estimated weight of 5000 pounds meant that it needed to be rock-sawed down to a more manageable size.

Using newly acquired equipment from the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre (PRPRC), Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation (TRMF) palaeontologists Rich McCrea and Lisa Buckley decided to make the acquisition of this important specimen a major project of the 2005 field season. They spent weeks jacking it up, sawing it down to a weight of 1800 pounds, and then moving it a few meters to where a helicopter with a 150 foot long line could just reach it.

On Sunday 7 August a TRMF work party managed to wedge webbing underneath it, and soon the airlift was on, generously sponsored by Talisman Energy and co-ordinated by Veritas. Pilot Jim Feaver expertly maneuvered his machine so as to lift the trackway almost vertically out of the canyon, and soon it was on a pallet in Tumbler Ridge and then in the PRPRC?s collections.

McCrea commented, ?We have previously collected individual footprint specimens of similar size to those present on this trackslab, but it is difficult to estimate the size of the trackmaker using a single print. From measurements taken directly from this trackway we know that the trackmaker had a footprint length of approximately 30cm and a pace of 50cm with a hip to shoulder length of only 50cm; the trackways of adult ankylosaurs often have footprints that are 50cm long with pace lengths around 100cm and hip to shoulder lengths of 150cm. We are looking at a difference in size that is comparable to that between a quad and a full-sized truck. Western Canada is the only place in the world where ankylosaur tracks are commonly found, but the Peace Region of British Columbia is the only place where the footprints of juvenile ankylosaurs have been found to date.?

Thanks to Talisman Energy, another piece of the fascinating Tumbler Ridge dinosaur story has been safely collected, and becomes a treasure for all British Columbians to share and enjoy. This follows Talisman?s support of Dino Camp and a $3000 donation to TRMF, which will be used towards the construction of the BC Dinosaur Discovery Gallery in Tumbler Ridge. Interpretation and display of this trackway will form an important part of this unique gallery, which is scheduled to open in 2006.