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

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.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cumberland Brewery is looking to expand its patio space temporarily for the summer. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland Brewery looks for temporary patio expansion

Move would allow business to spread customers outside in summer months

School District 71’s final budget for this school year showed more revenue from distance learning students but less from traditional classroom registration. Record file photo
Comox Valley Schools’ budget grant almost $5.5 million higher than planned

Increase came from a boost in distributed learning rather traditional registration

A&W on Ryan Road confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 at their restaurant and temporarily shut its doors. Google Maps photo
Courtenay restaurant temporarily closed due to COVID-19 exposure

It’s the latest business in the Valley to be affected by the virus

The CSRHD board moved closer to passing a budget with a $4.4 million cut to the tax requisition. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Strathcona hospital district moves on budget with tax cut

At $12.6 million, budget requisition represents drop of $4.4 million for current year

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton, standing at right, sits on steering committees of two organizations that are tackling the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. File photo
Courtenay councillor leads campaign to reduce building-sector GHG emissions

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton wants local governments to carry a little more… Continue reading

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Several BC Ferries sailings are cancelled Friday due to adverse weather. (Black Press Media File)
All B.C. Ferries sailings cancelled due to winds, adverse weather

Adverse weather causes cancellations across several BC Ferries routes

Bryan Adams with his mom, Jane Adams Clark, at Lions Gate Hospital. (Bryan Adams)
Bryan Adams gives shout out to North Shore hospital

The singer’s mom was in Lions Gate Hospital for care

Most Read