Sunday, 31 December 2017


Mike Trask, Titan occidentalis, Fernie, BC
Titanites occidentalis, the second of these giant ammonite fossils recovered at Coal Mountain near Fernie, British Columbia.

The first was about one-third the size and was identified as Lytoceras, a fast-moving nektonic carnivore. This specimen, found in 2004, is significantly larger and relatively rare in North America. With no ruler of an appropriate size, you can see Mike Trask sitting in for scale.

It has been identified as a Titanites occidentalis, (Western Giant), the second known specimen of this extinct fossil species. The first was discovered in 1947 in nearby Coal Creek by a British Columbia Geophysical Society mapping team.

Titanities is an extinct ammonite cephalopod genus within the family Dorsoplanitidae that lived during the upper Tithonian state of the Late Jurassic, some 152 to 145 million years ago.

In the summer of 1947, a field crew was mapping coal outcrops for the BC Geological Survey east of Fernie. One of the students reported finding “a fossil truck tire.” Fair enough. The similarity of size and optics are pretty close to your average Goodridge.

A few years later, GSC Paleontologist Hans Frebold described and named the fossil Titanites occidentalis, after the large Jurassic ammonites from Dorset, England.

The name comes from Greek mythology. Tithonus, as you may recall, was Prince of Troy. He fell in love with Eos, the Greek Goddess of the Dawn. Eos begged Zeus to make her mortal lover immortal. Zeus granted her wish but did not grant Tithonus eternal youth. He did indeed live forever, aging hideously. Ah, Zeus, you old trickster.

It is a clever play on time placement. Dawn being the beginning of the day and the Tithonian being the dawn of the Cretaceous.

Clever Hans!

Saturday, 23 December 2017


Koala, Phasscolarctos cinereus, are truly adorable marsupials native to Australia. These cuddly "teddy bears" are not bears at all. Koalas belong to a group of mammals known as marsupials. 

Fossil remains of Koala-like animals have been found dating back 25 million years. Some of the relatives of modern koalas were much larger, including the Giant Koala, Phascolarctos stirtoni

It should likely have been named the Robust Koala, instead of Giant, but this big boy was larger than modern koalas by about a third. Phascolarctos yorkensis, from the Miocene, was twice the size of the modern koalas we know today. Both our modern koalas and their larger relatives co-existed during the Pleistocene, sharing trees and enjoying the tasty vegetation surrounding them.

Friday, 22 December 2017