PAT TRASK AND his Courtenay museum friends have had some impressive visitors lately.

World celebrities rubbing shoulders with local fossils

Comox Valley Museum and Palaeontology Centre has been busy of late

Celebrities of the fossil world have been checking out the Comox Valley’s collection of marine fossils lately.

Courtenay Museum and Palaeontology Centre’s Pat Trask says not even two weeks ago he was surprised to see well-known palaeontologist Jack Horner — who was the technical advisor for all of the Jurassic Park films — walk through the museum doors.

“His name is probably one of the top three or four palaeontologists in North America,” says Trask, adding he’s not usually the type to be star-struck but his jaw dropped when he saw Horner.

“That guy is so famous — he’s on all the documentaries about dinosaurs, he has five crews in the field as we speak — and he had heard about Courtenay and the fossils that we’ve discovered here on Vancouver Island, so he was really excited to see them.”

Jim Haggart from the Geological Survey of Canada and Peter Ward from the University of Washington, both of whom Trask calls “top of their field,” were here during the fall looking for marine fossils on a section of beach.

He notes artist Ray Troll and director of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution Kirk Johnson were here working on a follow-up to their book Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway.

“The Courtenay Museum is going to be included because they photographed a whole bunch of our collection and they were quite impressed,” adds Trask, noting these fossil experts aren’t just visiting to see what the museum has upstairs, they’re very interested in what the museum has in its basement.

“We have at least 10,000 fossils down in the basement…We have a type specimen cabinet down there too because we have new species of animals, things that have never been seen before in fossil record, and we’re finding them here on Vancouver Island.”

Trask estimates the museum has at least five or six species that have never been seen elsewhere in the world.

“So we get scientists from all over the world here,” he continues, noting the Courtenay museum has been busily building relationships with those scientists.

“Especially Japan — we have a really good connection because we share the Pacific, and it turns out that the north island of Hokkaido has the same palaeogeography, meaning it was born the same way at the same time, and it shares the Pacific, so we share a lot of common fossils.”

Meanwhile, the museum has been revamped since the fall. Some improvements include fresh paint, window improvements, and — a variety of new exhibits.

Well-known for the Elasmosaur find in 1988, the museum still features the model of large marine reptile front and centre, but now the actual fossilized creature is stretched out in a long display case below the hanging model.

Another interesting addition is a new model of the Tylosaurus, which was a member of the mosasaur family known as the T-Rex of the Sea. This marine reptile is believed to have feasted on sharks, squid and smaller mosasaurs, among other things, and it had two extra rows of teeth on the roof of its mouth, plus and double-hinged jaw allowing it to eat larger prey.

Though the model has been brought in from Manitoba, a similar animal was found near Dove Creek Road during the construction of the Inland Island Highway years ago. The fossil is incomplete, but Trask notes the jaws found match those of a mosasaur, and could possibly be those of a Tylosaurus.

The museum also offers various other new exhibits, fossil tours seven days per week, birthday parties, and summer programs for kids.

The summer programs include educational activities, behind the scenes exploration and field trips. They are offered on a variety of dates throughout July and August, and are offered in two sets to kids aged five to seven, and eight to 12.

 

For more information, visit www.courtenaymuseum.ca, e-mail museum@island.net or call 250-334-0686.

 

 

Just Posted

Valley woman found guilty on three charges following 2016 collision in Courtenay

The woman involved in a trial for a multi-vehicle collision in which… Continue reading

High winds force several BC Ferries sailing cancellations

Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay, and Duke Point to Tsawwassen among closures

New wind warning for most of Vancouver Island

Forecasters are calling for strong winds up to 90km/h for some areas

Mount Washington opening for winter season this weekend

The resort’s original opening day was delayed due to lack of snow

VIDEO: Royals reveal the images on their Christmas cards

Prince William and his wife Kate are shown outside in casual clothes, their three young children in tow

Media, robotics, Indigenous studies coming to B.C. Grade 12 classrooms in 2019-20

Provincial tests are also being changed for students in Grade 10 to 12, the Education Ministry said

ICBC to apply for 6.3% hike to basic insurance rates

Crown Corporation said it will be submitting its next basic rate application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission Friday

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Canfor Corp. extending temporary curtailment of sawmills in B.C.; cutting hours

Vancouver-based company says the decision is due to declining lumber prices, high log costs and log supply constraints

Canada’s prospective world junior team members await final roster decisions

Thirty-four players were invited to the national junior selection camp

Family searching for B.C. professor last seen at Colombian salsa club

Ramazan Gencay, a professor in economics at Simon Fraser University, was last seen in Medellin

Rash of bomb threats a learning opportunity for response capacity, Goodale

Thursday’s wave of bomb threats swept across communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border

Mike Duffy can’t sue Senate over suspension without pay, judge rules

Duffy’s lawsuit sought more than $7.8 million from the upper chamber

Most Read