150 things about Canadian palaeo – part 4, Canadian fossil names #FossilFriday

For my 4th post on 150 things about Canadian palaeo, I’m going to mention a few fossils that are named for places in Canada. Since there are so many fossil localities, and so many fossils, naturally there are a lot of Canadian fossil names. Here are a few of my favourites. Starting at 22/150:

22. A number of fossils have been named for Canada, but probably my favourite is simply Canadia, a species of annelid worm from the Burgess Shale, named by Charles Walcott in 1911.

23. Another Burgess Shale fossil named after Canada is Anomalocaris canadensisa top predator living in the oceans over 500 million years ago. They are unlike anything alive today, and have been the source of a lot of confusion.

anomalocaris_nt_small
Artists impression of Anomalocaris canadensis, by N. Tamura.

24. Of course there are also dinosaurs whose names stem from Canada. One of my favourites is Pachyrhinosaurus canadensisa ceratopsian (horned dinosaur) from southern Alberta. Unlike other ceratopsians, Pachyrhinosaurus is known for having a nasal boss rather than a nose horn, which is where the name Pachyrhinosaurus comes from (thick-nosed-lizard). It was named in 1950 by Charles Sternberg.

25. Due to the number of fossils found in Alberta, many are named for the province. The most famous one is Albertosaurusa tyrannosaur, which was the first dinosaur found in Alberta when Joseph Burr Tyrrell discovered a skull near where Drumheller is today. Another example is Albertonectesa long necked plesiosaur (marine reptile) named in 2012.

26. There are a few dinosaurs that also appear to bear the name of the city of Edmonton. In reality, Edmontosaurus and Edmontonia were actually named for the Edmonton Formation, a rock unit now known to consist of several smaller formations. These fossils are from what is now known as the Horseshoe Canyon Formation. Although not named directly for the city, we do have examples of Edmontosaurus right in the city of Edmonton, at a large bonebed!

27. Another possible species of Edmontosaurus was named after the province next door, where it was found, Edmontosaurus saskatchewanensisHowever, it’s classification is debated, and is sometimes called Anatosaurus saskatchewanensis or Thespesius saskatchewanensis. Regardless, it’s still named for the province it was found in by Charles Sternberg in 1926.

28. There are also tiny microfossils named for Canadian locations. The form Yabeina columbiana is commonly found in British Columbia, where it takes it’s name from. These small single celled organisms had little shells (or tests) which are very common in the fossil record.

29. Dendrerpeton acadianum is an early tetrapod from the Carboniferous of Nova Scotia. Acadia is the name of one of the original French colonies in eastern Canada, consisting of what is now the maritime provinces and Quebec. The name is still used today to refer to that region of Canada.

There are many many more fossils named for Canadian cities, provinces, and regions, and this is just a glimpse of them. If you know of any others (particularly non-dinosaurs), let me know and I’ll try to feature them later!

The series:

Part 1: Intro

Part 2: The Burgess Shale

Part 3: Early Canadian palaeontologists

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16 thoughts on “150 things about Canadian palaeo – part 4, Canadian fossil names #FossilFriday

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