Clearly, the elasmosaur’s popularity inside the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Centre has stood the test of time.
That’s because the 80 million-year-old fossil was chosen late last week as the official fossil for the province.
In Nov. 2018, an online contest was put on by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. The elasmosaur collected the most votes of all submissions.
The winning fossil will be added to the official Provincial Symbols of British Columbia.
“This is wonderful news for the museum, Courtenay and the province,” said Deborah Griffths, executive director of the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Centre. “Exploring paleontology is an enjoyable gateway for the public to engage with natural history and to discover other historic aspects of B.C.’s communities.”
Other provincial symbols include the spirit bear, Steller’s jay and Pacific dogwood.
Courtenay’s Puntledge elasmosaur was discovered along the banks of the Puntledge River in 1988 by Mike Trask, and his daughter, Heather. It was included as one of seven important fossils from around the province including the ichthyosaur (marine reptile), ammonite, salmon and trilobite in the contest.
The elasmosaur received 48 per cent of the votes; its nearest competitor was the ichthyosaur with 15 per cent.
To officially add the elasmosaur to the official emblems of B.C., the provincial government will consider making an amendment to the Provincial Symbols and Honours Act. Next steps for this process are underway.