Photo: lton Webster and Cory and Colin Bordeleau of BG Canada expertly move dinosaur footprint slabs into position outside the new Dinosaur Discovery Gallery. – Submitted
By Charles Helm
On November 1st BG Canada assisted the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation (TRMF) with a major dinosaur footprint move, using their heavy equipment to transport eleven valuable fossil footprint and trackway slabs into the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre (PRPRC). One trackway alone of eight prints weighs an estimated five tonnes.
In the summer of 2008 Rob McIntyre, who has been responsible for previous footprint discoveries, came to the TRMF with a report of another site he had found, but with a difference. The slabs were amongst a number of rocks that had been placed to stabilize drainage ditches close to a new well-site in the foothills close to Tumbler Ridge. An initial field trip revealed that Rob’s find was of many large ankylosaur footprints, and established that this was a BG Canada well.
Curator Rich McCrea visited the tracks with TRMF volunteers and PRPRC staff in mid-July and confirmed their scientific importance. The palaeontologists were impressed by the quality of many of the prints and partial trackways on the slabs. It was decided that these important specimens would have to be moved into the care of the PRPRC. It was also soon realized that the job of moving these large rocks was beyond the current capabilities of the PRPRC and the TRMF.
Liaison then began with BG Canada, who immediately indicated a willingness to help with the move, and who confirmed that the footprints had been unearthed during the construction of the new well. BG Canada finally had the right equipment in the region in November. The timing couldn’t have been better as the museum’s move from its original location in a warehouse in the industrial park to the much larger building (formerly known as Claude Galibois Elementary School) had been completed a few weeks before. The move was executed without any difficulty, with Elton Webster and Colin and Cory Bordeleau during a really professional job, guiding the prints safely into the hands of Rich McCrea at the new museum site.
The prints are significant from a research perspective, and are also important exhibit specimens. The longest trackway may become an outdoor exhibit (under video camera surveillance) as it is too large and heavy to bring into the museum. Partly as a result of this community-minded act by BG Canada, Tumbler Ridge can now rightly claim that it has the largest collection of ankylosaur footprints in the world!
Earl Scott, Vice President of Engineering and Operations for BG Canada, commented: “The timing was great and we had the equipment right there. Quite apart from the technical and scientific value, BG Canada is pleased and proud to be helping the community of Tumbler Ridge with this great project. We like to think that any responsible company would react positively to an opportunity like this. I am looking forward to coming to see these footprints and the museum for myself as soon as possible.”
The PRPRC and TRMF are indeed grateful for this outstanding in-kind donation, which provides a fine example of co-operation between community and industry for mutual benefit.