Image courtesy of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology
We have a plan for everything – including a chance dinosaur bone discovery!
During trenching on the Elmworth section of the 2021 NGTL System Expansion Project near Grande Prairie, Alberta, dinosaur bones were found by the monitoring palaeontologist. As directed by our ‘Cultural Resource Discovery Contingency Plan’, construction was stopped in the area, so the discovery could be carefully documented, and the findings sent to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. Not only do we have a plan for cultural discoveries, but as outlined in the ‘Aboriginal Construction Participation Program’ (ACPP) plan, the ACPP team was able to join in the recovery of the bone fragments and help document details, which they also shared with their communities.
“Participating in the recovery of ancient bone fragments was a once in a lifetime experience,” shared Jarrod Gauchier, an ACPP participant from Peavine Métis Settlement.
“Working side-by-side with the palaeontologist shows the level at which TC Energy functions to ensure the proper steps are taken in such a sensitive location.”
The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, located in Drumheller, Alberta, is Canada’s largest museum dedicated exclusively to the study of ancient life. The museum is operated by the Government of Alberta and is the entity that works with industry when fossils are discovered during excavation work. “When fossils are found during activities like excavating or trenching, we work with the company to ensure these important pieces of Alberta’s pre-history are collected and preserved for science, education and public enjoyment, while endeavouring that the project is not delayed or hindered”, says Dan Spivak, Head of the Resource Management Program at the museum.
Image courtesy of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Illustration by Julius Csotonyi
A. My best guess would be Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai, but we are still trying to confirm that. A closer look may give us a better idea, especially the long bone we found, which appears to be a femur. Pachyrhinosaurus is a horned dinosaur, distantly related to Triceratops, the most famous of horned dinosaurs. Unlike Triceratops, Pachyrhinosaurus had two very small horns – or a boss – above their eyes and instead of a nasal horn, had a very thick boss. The frill would have been very ornate with two horns on the top.
A. This is common in the area. There is a famous Pachyrhinosaurus bonebed at Pipestone Creek, Alberta, which is close to the Elmworth section. At the Pipestone Creek bonebed, thousands of bones have been recovered of this dinosaur, along with the bones of other species like the tyrannosaur, a dromaeosaur (or what some might call a “raptor”) and a duck-billed hadrosaur, much like Edmontosaurus.
A. To help preserve the more fragile pieces, an archival grade plastic is used to help hold the bone together – like super glue – but has the ability to be reversed. For the larger specimens that need more support, a plaster jacket will be put around them to hold the bone and rock together until the fossil gets prepared. It also helps for transportation. For other specimens that do not require a plaster jacket, newspaper and bubble wrap can be used.
The Royal Tyrrell Museum holds one of the world’s largest collections of dinosaurs. To learn more about their exhibits, exciting history and how they work with people and businesses when fossils are found, visit their website or consider a trip!
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