Published on April 28th, 2015 | by Liz Martin-Silverstone


New dinosaur tracksite

A new phenomenal dinosaur tracksite has been discovered in northern British Columbia, Canada and the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre (PRPRC) needs help to preserve and research this site. We spoke to PRPRC’s curator and collections manager Lisa Buckley who filled us in on the area:

“The Early Cretaceous (~115 million years old) Peace River Canyon Tracksites, near Hudson’s Hope, British Columbia, were first studied and described by Charles M. Sternberg in the 1930s. The Peace River Canyon Tracksites represent the first Cretaceous-age dinosaur footprint fauna described, and several new footprint types were named from this locality: small-, medium-, and large-sized theropods, medium- and large-sized herbivorous dinosaurs, and tracks from the armored ankylosaurs. The tracksites were so important that they were granted Provincial Heritage Resource status in 1930, at the time the highest level of protection that could be granted in British Columbia.

Unfortunately, they are now lost to science, science education, and tourism. Construction of the Peace Canyon dam in the 1970s prompted a four year salvage operation by the then Provincial Museum of Alberta (now the Royal Alberta Museum), but the remaining footprints and sites have been entombed under the reservoir (Dinosaur Lake) since the Peace Canyon Dam started operating in 1979.

However, recently a large-scale (1300 m2) footprint surface, the Williston Lake Tracksite, was reported to researchers at the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre (PRPRC). This is the first large-scale dinosaur footprint surface in 36 years that has been exposed in the Gething Formation since the flooding of the Peace River Canyon. Documenting the Williston Lake tracksite is the closest thing we have to revisiting the original Sternberg Peace River Canyon tracksites. Our first visits to the site show that the parts of the surface that are already exposed are covered with the footprints of medium- and large-sized theropods and herbivorous dinosaurs.

The PRPRC is a small museum. We struggle every year to justify and fund paleontology research, which is the basis for not only scientific knowledge, but also for science educational outreach and geo-tourism. We have a golden opportunity to update and strengthen Sternberg’s original footprint research, but we need help. This is why we’re launching an ambitious Indiegogo funding campaign called “Research Dinosaur Tracks in Northeast BC, Canada!” to raise funds for this summer’s research.”

If you want to donate to this museum to help get this tracksite published and preserved, check out the Indiegogo campaign here. Every little bit helps!

Image copyright Richard T. McCrea.

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