Dinosaur trackway discovered at Brule Mine south of Chetwynd

Dan McNeil and Dr. Lisa Buckley examine the rock surface beside the newly discovered dinosaur trackway at the Brule Mine. Photo by Dr. Charles Helm/Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation

CHETWYND, B.C. — Yet another dinosaur trackway has been discovered at a coal mine in the South Peace.

The discovery was made back on August 18th by the Brule Mine’s Environment Team Manager Dan McNeil, a geologist with Conuma Coal Resources Ltd. McNeil, who was also involved in the dinosaur trackway discovery at the Wolverine Mine earlier this year, said that he made the discovery while he and Brule Environmental Coordinator Brenna Fossum were monitoring wells in the mine’s Dillon pit.

“We were looking at the water monitoring wells in the pit lake and when we turned around to leave I noticed a line of indentations on the northeast wall,” said McNeil. “After being involved in the discovery of the dinosaur tracks at the Wolverine mine earlier this year, I thought there was a chance that this may be a trackway. I took some pictures and sent them to Dr. Richard McCrea and Dr. Charles Helm to see if they were interested in taking a look.”

On September 4th, McNeil guided Drs. Lisa Buckley and Charles Helm to the mine site where the significance of his discovery was evident. Dr. Helm said that the trackway is comprised of at least eight consecutive deep hind foot impressions and smaller, shallower forelimb impressions that suggest an ankylosaur trackway.

Adding to the importance of this trackway is the age of the rock, about 115 million years old, in the Gething Formation. This is substantially older than the rock that is worked on in the mines closer to Tumbler Ridge.

Ankylosaur tracks were among the first ever dinosaur tracks documented in British Columbia in 1932 by Charles M. Sternberg. Those historically important tracks were in the now submerged part of the Peace River Canyon. Ankylosaur tracks are not commonly encountered in the Gething Formation.

Remarkably, this discovery by Mr. McNeil makes for a ‘clean sweep’ of all seven coal mines that have operated in north-eastern British Columbia. Dinosaur tracks have now been reported from each of these mines, and in each case the Peace Region Paleontology Research Centre scientists have had the opportunity to examine them.

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