80-Million-Year-Old Elasmosaur Fossils Discovered on Vancouver Island
Pat Trask was leading one of his fossil tours down by a river on Vancouver Island when one of the visitors picked up something unusual: a finger bone from an elasmosaur, a sea reptile from the dinosaur age.
A few months later, another tour participant picked up a small bone that looked like a hockey puck. That one turned out to be from the wrist of the elasmosaur.
"I started to realize that, actually, these things are falling out of the cliff," said Trask, curator of natural history at the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Centre.
The bones in question were appearing near the Trent River, a few kilometres from Courtenay, B.C. They were — and still are — falling from a nearby 15-metre overhanging cliff.
"This thing is coming out fairly quickly," Trask told CBC's All Points West.
Trask recently discovered a handful of new fossils, including a humerus bone and stomach stones. Some of the items appeared overnight, he said.
'A beautiful animal'
Elasmosaurs were dinosaur-like marine reptiles that lived about 80 million years ago.
"They're a beautiful animal," Trask said.
"They have a turtle-shaped body, a super long neck, a head full of pointy teeth for catching fish, flippers and a short tail."
Elasmosaur fossils have been discovered in places like Texas, Kansas, Alberta and B.C. — particularly Vancouver Island.