Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Thursday, 29 October 2015


During the Miocene and Pliocene, 12-1.6 million years ago, a diverse group of extinct proboscideans, elephant-like animals walked the Earth.

Most of these large beasts had four tusks and likely a trunk similar to modern elephants. They were creatures of legend, inspiring myths and stories of fanciful creatures to the first humans to encounter them.

Beyond our neanderthal friends, one such fellow was Quintus Sertorius, a Roman statesman come general, who grew up in Umbria. Born into a world at war just two years before the Romans sacked Corinth to bring Greece under Roman rule, Quintus lived much of his life as a military man far from his native Norcia. Around 81 BC, he travelled to Morocco, the land of opium, massive trilobites and the birthplace of Antaeus, the legendary North African ogre who was killed by the Greek hero Heracles.

The locals tell a tale that Quintus requested proof of Antaeus, hard evidence he could bring back to Rome to support their tales so they took him to a mound at Tingis, Morocco, where they unearthed the bones of a Neogene elephant, Tetralophodon.

Tetralophodon bones are large and skeletons singularly impressive. Impressive enough to be taken for something else entirely. By all accounts these proboscidean remains were that of the mythical ogre Antaeus and were thus reported back to Rome as such. It was hundreds of years later before their true heritage was known.

Thursday, 8 October 2015


George Mustoe of the Burke Museum preparing to make a mould of a palm trunk that once gew in the wetlands that bordered an ancient river.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Saturday, 7 February 2015


There was a large downpour of rain that hit Washington State. It resulted in a huge slide at Sumas Mountain that revealed several large exposures of fossil plants, shorebird trackways and the trackways of the large flightless bird Diatryma.

Many of these finds can now be seen at museums in Washington State. While less abundant, evidence of the animals that called this ancient swamp home are also found here. Rare bird, reptile, and mammal tracks have been immortalized in the soft muds along ancient riverways.

Monday, 19 January 2015


A few years ago, I had the very great honour of having a new species of ammonite named after me by paleontologist, Louse Longridge.

Meet Fergusonites hendersonae, a Late Hettangian ammonite from the Taseko Lake area of British Columbia, high up in the Canadian Rockies.

He looks a wee bit like the Cadoceras comma we find in the Mysterious Lake Formation at Harrison Lake but a wee bit thinner and smaller.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015


There are many fossil sites around Vancouver, British Columbia. Sadly, the volume and preservation of these fossils is far from ideal.

Still, if you are looking for a wee day trip, then a trip to the Capilano River is just the thing. From downtown Vancouver, drive through Stanley Park up and over the Lion’s Gate Bridge. Take the North Vancouver exit toward the ferries. Turn right onto Taylor Way and then right again at Clyde Avenue. Look for the Park Royal Hotel. Park anywhere along Clyde Avenue.

From Clyde Avenue walk down the path to your left towards the Capilano River.  Watch the water level and treat cautiously as it can be slippery. 

Look for beds of sandstone about 200 meters north of the private bridge and just south of the Hwy bridge.  The fossil beds are just below the Whytecliff Apartment high rises.

You will see some exposed shale in the area. It does not contain fossil material. The fossils occur only in the sandstone. Interesting, but again, not fossiliferous are the many granitic boulders and large boulders of limestone which may have been brought down by glaziers from as far away as Texada Island.

Cretaceous plant material found:
  • Alder
  • Unidentified Bark
What you see on your visit:
  • Poplar (cottonwood)  Populus sp.
  • Bigleaf maple  Acer machphyllum
  • Alder  Alnus rubra
  • Buttercup  Ranvuculus sp.
  • Epilobrium
  • Red cedar
  • Blackberry
  • Sword fern

Monday, 5 January 2015