|Douvelliceras spiniferum, Cretaceous Haida Formation|
The Geological Survey of Canada sponsored many expeditions to these remote islands and has produced numerous reference papers on this magnificent terrain, exploring both the geology and paleontology of the area.
Joseph Whiteaves, the GSC 's chief palaeontologist in Ottawa, published a paper in 1876 describing the Jurassic and Cretaceous faunas of Skidegate Inlet, furthering his reputation globally as both a geologist and paleontologist.
The praise was well-earned and foreshadowed his significant contributions to come. Sixteen years later, he wrote up and published his observations on a strange Mount Stephen fossil that resembled a kind of headless shrimp with poorly preserved appendages. Because of the unusual pointed shape of the supposed ventral appendages and the position of the spines near the posterior of the animal, Whiteaves named it Anomalocaris canadensis. The genus name "Anomalocaris" meant "unlike other shrimps" and the species name "canadensis" referred to the country of origin.
Whiteaves work on the paleontology of the Queen Charlotte Island provided us with excellent reference tools, particularly his work on the Cretaceous exposures and fauna that can be found there.
One of our fossil field trips was to the ruggedly beautiful Cretaceous exposures of Lina Island. We’d planned this trip as part of our “trips of a lifetime.” Both John Fam and Dan Bowen can be congratulated for their efforts in researching the area and ably coordinating a warm welcome by the First Nations community and organizing fossil field trips to some of the most amazing fossil localities in the Pacific Northwest. With great sandstone beach exposures, the fossil-rich (Albian to Cenomanian) Haida formation provided ample specimens, some directly in the bedding planes and many in concretion. Many of the concretions contained multiple specimens of typical Haida Formation fauna, providing a window into this Cretaceous landscape.
It is always interesting to see who was making a living and co-existing in our ancient oceans at the time these fossils were laid down. We found multiple beautifully preserved specimens of the spiny ammonite, Douvelleiceras spiniferum along with Brewericeras hulenense, Cleoniceras perezianum and many cycads in concretion.
Pictured above is Douvilleiceras spiniferum with his naturally occurring black, shiny appearance. Danna Straaf had recently asked me what my favourite cephalopod is, and I have to say that it is a hard choice but this fellow is in the top three. He is 6 inches long and 5 inches deep, and a beautiful example of the species.