Royal Saskatchewan Museum Launches Provincial Fossil Exhibit
Saskatchewan will soon have a new emblem, an official Provincial Fossil. The Royal Saskatchewan Museum (RSM) has launched a new exhibit, the Saskatchewan Fossil Campaign - 2016.
The public is invited to view specimens from candidates for the Provincial Fossil, ranging from the massive skull of a T. rex to the toe bones of a mammoth. RSM guests will learn more about each candidate’s unique characteristics and can cast a vote right at the museum for the fossil they believe best represents Saskatchewan’s rich palaeontological history.
“We encourage everyone to visit the RSM over the next several months to check out the brand new exhibit, and, of course, cast their vote,” Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Mark Docherty said. “This is a unique opportunity for people to be a part of history in choosing our provincial fossil. Saskatchewan’s fossils are of tremendous value to scientists worldwide, and fossil discoveries are a source of pride of many Saskatchewan communities.”
Saskatchewan’s rich and diverse fossil history covers much of the southern part of the province. The seven Provincial Fossil candidates represent fossils found in communities across Saskatchewan including Eastend, Herschel, Carrot River, Kyle, and Ponteix.
The final list of candidates includes:
- “Mo” Ponteix Long-necked Plesiosaur (giant marine reptile) - Terminonatator ponteixiensis is unique to Saskatchewan and known from a single skeleton. As the name suggests, it was found near Ponteix. This animal lived 78 million years ago when the province was a shallow inland sea.
- “Scotty” The Tyrannosaurus rex – Saskatchewan’s “Scotty” is one of the largest T. rex specimens ever found – and T. rex is not an emblem for any other Canadian province or U.S. state. In 1991, “Scotty” was found in the Frenchman River Valley near the town of Eastend.
- “Kyle Mammoth” Woolly Mammoth – Mammuthus sp. (species unknown) - The Kyle Mammoth is a 12,000 year old elephant-like giant that has been the pride of the region since the 1960s.
- Herschel Short-necked Plesiosaur - Dolichorhynchops herschelensis is only known from the one specimen collected near Herschel. It is truly one-of-a-kind. The genus Dolichorhynchops, however, is known from other specimens throughout North America.
- Brontothere – Megacerops sp. (species unknown)- A rhino-like mammal from 35 million years ago, found in southwest Saskatchewan, an area that is known to provide the best record of animal life in Canada during that time period. In Saskatchewan: Megacerops has been found mostly around the eastern flanks of the Cypress Hills. This particular specimen was found northwest of Eastend in 1971.
- “Big Bert” - Terminonaris robusta – the most complete and best-preserved specimen of this 92 million year-old crocodile was discovered along the bank of the Carrot River in 1991.
- Thescelosaur - Thescelosaurus assiniboiensis – this plant-eating dinosaur is known from the Frenchman River Valley and was first discovered in 1968. Thescelosaurus assiniboiensis was recognized recently as a new species that is unique to Saskatchewan.
Detailed information on each candidate, in both English and French, can be found atwww.royalsaskmuseum.ca/education/inquiry-project/fossil-candidates.
Voting may be done at the RSM from November 19 through to April 25, 2016. From April 11 to April 25, 2016 voting will open province-wide online with Saskatchewan’s Provincial Fossil announced in May 2016.
This exhibit will be running in conjunction with a video competition aimed at Grade 7 students who will be promoting their own choices for Saskatchewan’s fossil. More information can be found at www.royalsaskmuseum.ca/education/inquiry-project/fossil-video-contest.
The RSM, located at 2445 Albert Street, is open daily from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Visit www.royalsaskmuseum.caor call 306-787-2815. Admission is by donation.