Prosauropod Dinosaur Dig Begins this Month

first_imgIt’s the stuff novels and movies are made of — the romance andlore of hunting for dinosaurs that has consumed humans forcenturies. On Friday, July 16, a small group of Fundy GeologicalMuseum staff and volunteers will embark on a once in a lifetimeopportunity to participate in a fossil dig. The group, led by palaeontologist Tim Fedak, will return to NorthAmerica’s richest prosauropod dinosaur site located on NovaScotia’s Fundy shore, near Parrsboro, Cumberland Co. Several dinosaurs have been found at this site, but Mr. Fedak’slast excursion in the summer of 2000 yielded the most completeand largest example of Canada’s oldest dinosaur — theprosauropod. Prosauropods belong to a group of herbivorous dinosaurs, whichrange up to eight metres in length, and are characterized by along neck, long tail and small head. The prehistoric beasts mayhave been a forerunner to the much larger and more recentsauropods, like the brachiosaurus and apatosaurus. Although several prosauropods were collected in North America inthe 1880s, Mr. Fedak notes that the Nova Scotia animals areunique. “It seems likely that we are looking at a new type ofprosauropod dinosaur,” he said. In addition to this ground-breaking research, Mr. Fedak’s recentexamination of a very small prosauropod specimen collected in1986 revealed that the dinosaur was less than a year old at thetime of its death. The discovery of the young animal suggests thepresence of egg shells and other yearlings, which is greatinspiration for dinosaur hunters everywhere. Mr. Fedak and his crew will also be keeping an eye out for skullmaterial. Ongoing preparation of previously collected material atthe Fundy Geological Museum revealed additional neck bones, whichindicate the presence of a second skull. The fragile skull bones,so crucial in species identification, are extremely susceptibleto erosion. The dinosaur bone quarry is located near the base ofa sandstone cliff, which is subject to a tidal range of more thanfive metres and an erosion rate of about one metre per year,giving the workers an even greater sense of purpose. Funding for the two-week expedition has been provided by theJurassic Foundation. The foundation was established in 1997 byUniversal Studios and Amblin Entertainment to fundpaleontological research projects. For more information on prosauropod research in Nova Scotia,visit the museum’s website at museum.gov.ns.ca/fgm/lab/lab.html .last_img read more