Newly unveiled dinosaur tracks march B.C. back into its prehistoric past
1,300-square-metre track at Williston Lake was kept secret for years to protect it from vandals
Paleontology in British Columbia is taking a step forward, thanks to hundreds of dinosaur footprints discovered in northeastern British Columbia.
The large site, called a dinosaur trackway, was scheduled to be unveiled Friday afternoon near Hudson's Hope, about 80 kilometres west of Fort. St. John.
In an online post, Lisa Buckley with the Peace River Paleontology Centre in Tumbler Ridge says researchers had to keep the 1,300-square-metre track at Williston Lake secret for years to protect it from vandalism.
But with plans finally underway for a formal excavation of the site, the paleontology centre is ready to give its first public tour of the roughly 100-million-year-old dinosaur tracks from the Early Cretaceous period.
The Treaty 8 Tribal Association issued a public invitation to Friday's opening, saying it is one of several groups working to save the trackway, which scientists have linked to similar tracks lost in the late '70s due to flooding from two nearby dams.
The tribal association hopes the unveiling highlights B.C.'s unique and accessible fossil dinosaur heritage, leading to construction of a climate-controlled building to conserve and interpret the area.
"Right now, only 500 square metres of the dinosaur footprint site are exposed, but we know ... that there is over 1,000 square metres of surface that very likely contains dinosaur footprints," said Buckley in an online video posted to raise funds for the project.
Researchers want to clear off the surface of the flat rocks to expose all of the footprints of the various dinosaurs, including many from the fearsome, five-metre-long, meat-eating Allosaurus.
The tribal association says the trackway could become a major part of the envisioned "Northern Dinosaur Trail" linking similar nearby sites with those in northwestern Alberta and the Yukon, all under the Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark, created in December 2015.