In 2015 Carina Helm discovered a rare Tyrannosaurid track at Capital Power’s Quality Wind Project in the Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark. On July 19th, 2019, it was finally recovered and brought into the Tumbler Ridge Museum’s collection. The 5,000kg slab provided some logistical challenges but discussions with Tumbler Ridge Mayor, Keith Bertrand, earlier this year led to the donation of time and equipment by the Fort St John branch of NCSG Crane & Heavy Haul Services. With Mayor Bertrand operating the crane and regional manager Doug Mitchell bringing in a truck and trailer from Fort St John and providing support, it is now safely stored at the museum and protected from the elements.
Mayor Bertrand had this to say: “When Dr. Helm approached me with the opportunity to recover a piece of history and bring it back to the TRMF, I jumped right on board! I approached my branch manager and asked if he would be interested in donating equipment to be part of history. He said absolutely! I would like to thank Dr. Helm for his vision and long list of accomplishments, Doug Mitchell with NCSG Crane & Heavy Haul, Zena Conlin with TRMF and Cam Drever with the TR Global Geopark, and Jesse Coonce with Capital Power for allowing us the opportunity to recover the specimen from Quality wind site. I really appreciated the opportunity to be a part of this project not only as the crane operator but also as the mayor. It is really easy to be proud of this accomplishment as well as all of the accomplishments and attractions of Tumbler Ridge. That’s what has kept my family here for 16 years. We love it!”
NCSG Crane & Heavy Haul Services Branch Manager Doug Mitchell enjoyed this opportunity to give back to the community, “Just to get the chance to be a part of the recovery of the fossil at the Quality Wind Farm is something we are very proud of. We utilized our 160 ton crane to lift the delicate slab onto a flatbed trailer before hauling it to, and carefully offloading it at the Tumbler Ridge Museum. My family and I hold a special place in our hearts for Tumbler Ridge as we can often be found hiking, camping, golfing and using the wonderful facilities at the local community center. We are always welcomed into the community with friendly, open arms and this was a very cool way for my family (both at work and home) to give back to the community that has given us so much over the years. We can’t wait to visit the exhibit item once it is unveiled at the museum!”
There are a number of other dinosaur tracks on the trampled surface. The tracks are natural casts, representing the infill layer of sand on what was probably a muddy surface. This means that the slab was ‘flipped’ and was found upside down. This likely happened during installation of the wind turbines by Capital Power during construction for the Quality Wind Project.
Tyrannosaurid tracks are rare with an estimated eighteen known worldwide, with ten of those discovered locally. Every one that is identified is important, and worthy of recovery when possible. The rocks in which all our tracks are found are from the Wapiti Formation which is over 70 million years old. This is older than the time span for Tyrannosaurus rex, which went extinct with the rest of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Albertosaurus or Gorgosaurus are plausible trackmakers.
On Friday October 9th, 2020, a massive fossil recovery effort disrupted traffic along highway 29 between Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd for several hours as four large blocks containing significant material were recovered, the largest weighing in at 17,000 pounds.
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