This year is a special year for Canada: July 1 marks our 150th “birthday”, or 150 years since we gained independence (mostly) from the United Kingdom, uniting the provinces of Canada (now Ontario and Quebec), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into the Dominion of Canada.
To celebrate, I am going to be running a series of (short) blog posts with 5-8 points each week, adding up to 150 things about palaeontology in Canada. These will range from facts about the history of palaeontology, to significant finds, to where you can study palaeontology. To start off, here are 7 general palaeo facts about Canada:
- The first “dinosaur” fossil on Canadian soil was found in 1845 (before confederation!) but thanks to research published a few years ago, we now know it was not a dinosaur at all, but a Dimetrodon, a mammal-like reptile from the Permian. It was discovered on Prince Edward Island.
- The first actual dinosaur was found in 1884, in the Red Deer River Valley of Alberta, near Drumheller. This was the first of many dinosaur fossils to be found in this region, which I’ll discuss more in detail over the coming weeks.
- Canada has something like over 800 different fossil bearing geological formations, which cover every province and territory.
- These formations also cover a significant portion of the history of life, with some microfossils being nearly 2 billion years old, while we also have fossils from the last Ice Age.
- Alberta alone has over 30 species of dinosaurs recognised, although there are probably many more than that. I’ll talk a lot about Albertan and Canadian dinosaurs later.
- Canadian fossils cover literally all types of fossils. Types of fossils include, microfossils and spores, bones, footprints, vertebrates, invertebrates, marine, terrestrial, plants, amber, coprolites, and much more.
- Canada has 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are there purely for their palaeontological significance. One of these was given the status just last year.
Many of these points I will discuss in more detail over the next few months. If you want to know more, keep reading! I’ll try to post each Friday for #FossilFriday, but depending on if #thesissaysno, they may be a bit delayed… Hope you enjoy these Canadian palaeo facts!