Geeky Goodness from the Fossil Huntress. If you love palaeontology, you'll love this stream. Dinosaurs, trilobites, ammonites — you'll find them all here. It's dead sexy science for your ears. Want all the links? Head on over to Fossil Huntress HQ at www.fossilhuntress.com
Valley of a Thousand Peaks in the Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountain Trench is one of the few geologic wonders we can see from space. It is known as the Valley of a Thousand Peaks or simply the Trench — a large valley on the western side of the northern part of North America's Rocky Mountains.
Solving an 85 Million-Year-Old Puzzle — Excavating An Elasmosaur
A mighty marine reptile was excavated on the Trent River near Courtenay on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The excavation is the culmination of a three-year palaeontological puzzle.
The fossil remains are those of an elasmosaur — a group of long-necked marine reptiles found in the Late Triassic to the Late Cretaceous some 215 to 80 million years ago. In the case of the Trent River, it is closer to 85 million years old. The marine reptile fossil was excavated 10-meters up high on the cliffs that line the river. It took a month of careful planning, building scaffolding, and amassing climbing gear to aid the team of dedicated souls in unearthing this juvenile elasmosaur.
Bits and pieces of him have been eroding out for years — providing clues to the past and a jigsaw puzzle that has finally had the last pieces put together. The first piece of this marine reptile puzzle was found three years ago.
Celebrating 2021 With All of You & Welcoming 2022 With An Epic Fossil Contest
Nothing says Happy 2022 like free prizes. Thank you to each and every one of you who spent time with me in 2021. It is time to wrap up the year and welcome in 2022. I wish you health, happiness and many fossils.... perhaps as prizes. That's right. It is time to celebrate you! We're starting off 2022 with some great giveaways. Head on over to the ARCHEA YouTube Channel to learn how you could add a few nice fossils, some collecting gear and oodles of tasty fossil goodness to your collection in 2022. It is free to enter... and shameless bribery. I look forward to spending time with all of you in the New Year! Head to www.fossilhuntress.com to find all the links you'll need to win.
Love the Wild: Moose / Alces alces
Love the Wild: Moose. One of the most impressive mammals of the Pacific Northwest and the largest living member of the deer family are Moose. They are taller than everyone you know and weighs more than your car. You may encounter them lumbering solo along the edge of rivers and lakes, taking a refreshing swim or happily snacking on short grasses, water plants, woody shrubs and pinecones.
You can often see them in Canada and some of the northern regions of the USA going about their business of eating and swimming. The males are called bulls and make quite a racket during mating season, also known as the Rut, using their bugle-like calls to attract a mate. Their impressive headgear can grow up to six feet and are used in displays of posturing, fighting or self-defence with other bulls — generally regarding a lady-moose or cow.
Females do not have antlers but certainly, notice them. Once a mate is chosen, the new parents will produce one or two babies or calves. Fully grown, their new young will one day be able to run 55 km per hour and have excellent hearing and sense of smell. Their vision is not that good but their other senses make up for it.
The scientific or binomial name for Moose is Alces alces (Linnaeus, 1758). The word moose is borrowed from Algonquian. In Narragansett, moose are called moos and in Eastern Abenaki, this large mammal is called mos. Both are likely derived from moosu, meaning he strips off. The Proto-Algonquian form was mo·swa.
In the Kwak̓wala language of the Kwakiutl or Kwakwaka'wakw, speakers of Kwak'wala, of the Pacific Northwest, moose are known as t̕ła̱wa̱l's — and their large crown of antler are known as wa̱t'łax̱.
I had a close encounter on the Bowron Lake Circuit with a mamma moose, her new calf and a fully grown Grizzly chasing them. I can share that whatever the guidebooks say, a motivated mother and calf can outrun a bear. Maybe not always, but they certainly did that time.
Moose are ungulates, mammals with hooves. The first ungulates appear in the fossil record about 50 million years ago. The lineage split, evolving into two groups: those with an even number of toes (Artiodactyls) and those with an uneven number of toes (Perissodactyls).
We see the first proto-deer about 35 million years ago. These are the proto-deer like Syndyoceras who shared features with deer, horses, giraffes and antelopes. They had bony skull outgrowths similar to antlers and were found in North America during the Miocene, some 35 million years ago. Ten million years later, we see the first animals you and I would recognize as deer. Moose first appear in the fossil record during the Upper Pleistocene, a time of global glaciation.
Moose are gentle creatures if unprovoked. They sometimes ramble into town or buildings if they lose their way. We find them enjoying the water from garden sprinklers, randomly making their way into homes, barns and classrooms in Canada — and likely elsewhere. It is worth doing a Google search of their antics to see all that these massive mammals get up to. They are smart enough to know that living in the woods in hunting season can go poorly, so Moose will gather in downtown Banff and Lake Louise, hiding in plain sight to avoid becoming someone's dinner or trophy.
Across Canada today, we live alongside 500,000 to 1,000,000 of their number. Another 200,000 or so live south of us in the northern United States. Across Europe and Asia are another million-plus of their relatives.
Cretaceous Capilano Fossil Field Trip
Fossil Field Trip to the Cretaceous Capilano Three Brothers Formation — Vancouver has a spectacular mix of mountains, forests, lowlands, inlets and rivers all wrapped lovingly by the deep blue of the Salish Sea. When we look to the North Shore, the backdrop is made more spectacular by the Coast Mountains with a wee bit of the Cascades tucked in behind.
If you were standing on the top of the Lion's Gate Bridge looking north you would see the Capilano Reservoir is tucked in between the Lions to the west and Mount Seymour to the east on the North Shore. The bounty of that reservoir flows directly into your cup. If you look down from the reservoir you see the Capilano River as it makes its way to the sea and enters Burrard Inlet.
The Capilano River on Vancouver's North Shore flows through the Coast Mountains and our coastal rainforest down to the Capilano watershed en route to Burrard Inlet. The headwaters are at the top of Capilano up near Furry Creek. They flow down through the valley, adding in rainwater, snowmelt and many tributaries before flowing into Capilano Lake. The lake in turn flows through Capilano Canyon and feeds into the Capilano River.
This area was once the exclusive domain of the Coast Salish First Nations — xʷmə?kʷəyəm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations until the early 1800s. Many things have changed since then, including the Capilano River's path, water levels and sediment deposition. We have Ernest Albert Cleveland to thank for the loss of that salmon but can credit him with much of our drinking water as it is caught and stored by the dam that bears his name. It was his vision to capture the bounty from the watershed and ensure it made its way into our cups and not the sea.
Both the water and a good deal of sediment from the Capilano would flow into Burrard Inlet if not held back by the 91-metre concrete walls of the Cleveland Dam. While it was not Ernest's intention, his vision and dam had a secondary impact. In moving the mouth of the Capilano River he altered the erosion pattern of the North Shore and unveiled a Cretaceous Plant Fossil outcrop that is part of the Three Brothers Formation.
The fossil site is easily accessible from Vancouver and best visited in the summer months when water levels are low. The level of preservation of the fossils is quite good. The state in which they were fossilized, however, was not ideal. They look to have been preserved as debris that gathered in eddies in a stream or delta.
There are Cretaceous species found only in the sandstone. You will see exposed shale in the area but it does not contain fossil material. Interesting, but again not fossiliferous, are the many granitic and limestone boulders that look to have been brought down by glaciers from as far away as Texada Island. Cretaceous plant material (and modern material) found here include Poplar (cottonwood) Populus sp. Bigleaf Maple, Acer machphyllum, Alder, Alnus rubra, Buttercup Ranvuculus sp., Epilobrium, Red cedar, Blackberry and Sword fern.
Capilano Fossil Field Trip:
From downtown Vancouver, drive north through Stanley Park 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 tread cautiously as it can be slippery if there has been any recent rain. Look for beds of sandstone about 200 meters north of the private bridge and just south of the Highway bridge. The fossil beds are just below the Whytecliff Apartment high rises. Be mindful of high water and slippery rocks.
The Fossils and Geology of Haida Gwaii
The islands have gone by many names. To the people who call the islands home, Haida Gwaii means Island of the People, it is a shortened version of an earlier name, Haadala Gwaii-ai, or taken out of concealment. Back at the time of Nangkilslas, it was called Didakwaa Gwaii, or “shoreward country.” By any name, the islands are a place of beauty and spirit and enjoy a special place in both the natural and supernatural world.
Haida oral history traces the lineage of their families back to the ocean’s origins. Spear points from Huxley Island confirm a date of between 12,500 - 13,500 years ago. Their stories bear witness to the last ice age, great floods, changes in sea levels and the arrival of the first tree – each binding them closer to the land and sea and enriching our understanding of this special place.
The islands form part of Wrangellia, an exotic terrane that includes parts of western British Columbia, Vancouver Island and Alaska. Today, the mist-shrouded archipelago of Haida Gwaii is separated from the British Columbia mainland by Hecate Strait, a 40-mile wide channel of tempestuous water.
Haida oral tradition tells of a time when the strait was mostly dry, dotted here and there with lakes. And indeed, during the last ice age, glaciers locked up so much water that the sea level was hundreds of feet lower than it is today. Soil samples from the seafloor of Hecate Strait contain wood, pollen, and other terrestrial plant materials that tell of a tundra-like environment. Whether or not the strait was ever completely dry during these times, it seems that it did at least contain a series of stepping-stone islands and bridges that remained free of ice.