TUMBLER RIDGE, B.C. – An international scientific journal recently highlighted crocodile swim traces found near Tumbler Ridge that are approximately 112 million years old.
Cretaceous Research published the article, comparing the find near the District to tracks from the Cretaceous Period found in the western USA.
A local geologist, Kevin Sharman, discovered the swim traces within the Quintette Mine operated by Teck Resources in 2015, according to Dr. Charles Helm, scientific advisor for the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation.
“The crocodiles were swimming in a tidal channel on a low-lying coastal plain, and scratching the muddy bottom with their claws, creating ‘swim traces’. In places, there is evidence that they also dragged their tails,” said Helm in an article commenting on the recently released paper.
“It is possible to estimate the length of the crocodiles from the distance between the toes in the swim, and it appears that they were about a metre in length.”
The District is known for dinosaurs, however, Helm says there is something special about crocodiles and that they’re still alive today.
“They did not become extinct at the end of the Cretaceous, but have ‘survivor status’.”
Following their discovery, the four slabs containing the swim traces were transported to the Tumbler Ridge Museum. Teck Resources built a 200-metre access road to the site, which was used to transport the slabs with assistance from LaPrairie Crane.
A replica of the largest slab is on display in the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery in the District.
Helm says future scientific publications are expected as more crocodile sites have been found in the District, and research in the area is ongoing.
Helm was a co-author on the Cretaceous Research along with Shaman. The lead author was Martin Lockley of the University of Colorado, and Guy Plint of the University of Western Ontario was the second author.