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Long-necked elasmosaur officially adopted as B.C.’s fossil emblem

Massive marine reptile swam the waters around Vancouver Island 80 million years ago
British Columbia officially designated a large, fierce-looking marine reptile with a mouthful of pointy teeth that made its home about 80 million years ago in Vancouver Island waters as the province’s official fossil emblem. A fossil of a Puntledge River elasmosaur is shown at the Museum and Palaeontology Centre in Courtenay, B.C. in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Pat Trask

British Columbia has officially designated a large, fierce-looking marine reptile that swam in waters off Vancouver Island 80 million years ago as the province’s official fossil emblem.

The government adopted the long-necked, sharp-toothed 12-metre elasmosaur as the fossil emblem on Thursday, adding to the list of provincial symbols.

The designation follows a five-year recognition effort by paleontology enthusiasts and a province-wide public poll in 2018 where the elasmosaur received 48 per cent of the votes.

Tourism Minister Lana Popham says in a statement the elasmosaur designation raises awareness that B.C. has a fossil heritage worthy of celebration and stewardship.

The first elasmosaur fossil was discovered in 1988, along the Puntledge River on Vancouver Island, marking the first fossil of its kind found west of the Canadian Rockies.

The elasmosaur lived along the coast of B.C., dating back to the Cretaceous period.

You can learn more about the ancient creature at the Courtenay and District Museum & Paleontology Centre in the Comox Valley. In fact, on Nov. 25 you can celebrate “Courtenay’s very own Puntledge River Elasmosaur … turning 80,000,035 this November!”

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the downtown Courtenay museum, mark Elasmosaur’s big day and its official designation as the provincial fossil of B.C. with cake and other treats.

Other official B.C. emblems include the Pacific dogwood, Stellar’s jay, spirit bear, Pacific salmon, jade and the western red cedar.

If you go:

READ MORE: Inside Victoria B.C.’s T.rex invasion

READ MORE: Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

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