A paddle element from a short-necked plesiosaur found recently in Herschel, SK.
Our first major field event this year has temporarily come to an end. In 1990, I collected a partial skeleton of a short-necked plesiosaur (polycotylid) near the village of Herschel, Saskatchewan, southwest of Saskatoon. This reptile, which would become the type specimen of a new species, Dolichoryhnchops herschelensis, lived in the Western Interior Seaway some 75 or so million years ago when much of the province was underwater. Since the time of collection another site has proven even more interesting, in that it is not one skeleton, but hundreds of bones of many animals that live at that same time. Bones of Dolichoryhnchops, but also mosasaurs, long-neck plesiosaurs (elasmosaurids), fish bones of many varieties, including the distinctive ‘rat fish’ called Enchodus; and sharks. Hundreds of shark teeth. In total, up to 1600 bones were collected prior to this year’s activities. And more were found this year to add to the total, and expanding the variety of sea life so many years ago.
Another paddle element from a short-necked plesiosaur.
This site attracted many volunteers, helping remove overburden so we could gain access at the bone layer. My assistant, Dr. Emily Bamforth, supervised much of the work, including the assistants of two students from McGill University, Sarah Popov, and Isabel Fendley, as well as our Young Canada Works student, Dakota Bast. This entire activity was greatly supported by the village of Herschel, and especially Sue and David Neufeld. They provided a wonderful ‘wild’ supper, and opened their homes to us. Also, one group of young students from a University of Saskatchewan Ecology camp dropped by and helped immensely scouring the area for weathered fossils and shoveling. A big thank you to all our volunteers:(Apologies in advance if the names are misspelled, or if this list is incomplete!)
Nicole, Shayaan, Kenton, Drew, Jaden, Victor, Ian, Corbin, Isaac, Andrew, Cohen, John, Kaleb, Brian, Michael, Derek, David Neufeld's son and grandson, Guy and Nathan.
My field crew. Isabel, Dakota, Emily, volunteer Derek, and Sarah.
The site is now closed but the information gained this year means we may investigate further the sites’ fossil remains. Next on the agenda, my team will be looking at the deposits just prior to and after the mass extinction 65 million years ago, near Eastend, and later in the east block of Grasslands National Park. Certainly, more is to come from our summer of searching and collecting life from the past.