On Tuesday October 15 geologist Kevin Sharman, Senior Geologist Supervisor for Teck Coal Limited’s Quintette Coal Operations, arrived at the museum in Tumbler Ridge with a special 300 kilogram delivery package in the back of his truck.
The previous week Richard Osbourne had been running an excavator on the upper slopes of Babcock Mountain and had found a slab containing dinosaur tracks. The pit supervisor explains: “Richard said he was working beside the pile of rocks and just so happened to notice the tracks. He says he is always looking for that kind of stuff because his daughter is really interested in it.”
The slab provides an intriguing snapshot of Cretaceous life, containing the tracks of at least three dinosaurs (ankylosaur, medium theropod and small theropod) as well as plant fossils. That the tracks are found in a potential coal mine is no surprise—coal is the slow-cooked remains of the swampy forests in which the dinosaurs roamed, and the nearby sandy areas were suitable for making tracks.
Richard McCrea, Curator of the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre in Tumbler Ridge (PRPRC), expressed his gratitude: “We have a history of working on fossil tracks within Teck coal mines in southeastern British Columbia, so it is good to see the same collaborative spirit at work closer to the museum. We would like to put this specimen on display in the near future, but the track slab is too heavy for our existing display cabinets in the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery, so we will have to construct a custom display cabinet to house it”.
Ray Proulx, Teck’s Senior Coordinator for Community and Aboriginal Affairs in Northeast BC, commented: “Teck has a long-standing history of facilitating research on palaeontological finds uncovered at our Elk Valley properties in southeastern BC. We are pleased to extend this legacy of cooperation at Quintette in support of the PRPRC and Tumbler Ridge’s long term economic aspirations.”
By coincidence, Mike Bernier, MLA for Peace River South, was enjoying a tour of the facility and becoming familiar with the Tumbler Ridge Aspiring Geopark project when the track slab arrived, and was able to assist with bringing the specimen into the museum. His comments on the museum and proposed Geopark were enthusiastic: “I will be working towards getting more awareness of this amazing, unique and truly untapped opportunity we have here in the Peace Region.”
All in all, it was a good day for palaeontology in BC, for Tumbler Ridge, and for the museum, coming at a time when the application is about to be sent to UNESCO for the Tumbler Ridge Aspiring Geopark to become a member of the Global Geoparks Network.