British Columbia

Rare dinosaur footprint found near Tumbler Ridge, B.C.

A university student discovered a large and rare dinosaur footprint, in Tumbler Ridge, B.C., from the same family of top predators as the T.Rex.

Fossil is one of only 14 rare tyrannosaur specimens discovered worldwide

Carina Helm, a UBC student, discovered in Tumbler Ridge, B.C. a large and rare dinosaur footprint from the same family of top predators as the T.Rex. (Helm family)

A university student discovered a large and rare dinosaur footprint, in Tumbler Ridge, B.C., from the same family of top predators as the T.Rex.

Carina Helm, a 20-year-old UBC student, was out repairing some local boardwalks in the area when her father pointed out the area was rich in fossilized specimens. 

"Before that I had never realized the area we're in is the right age for bearing fossils," she told CBC. 

She realized that she might have stumbled across a dinosaur track earlier that summer when she was out berry picking with her friends, so the pair decided to take a short detour back to that site. 

"The very first rock I looked at had this huge track-shape," she recalled. "At first, I thought it wasn't anything because it was so big and I had never seen anything like that before, but after looking at it for a bit, I felt you could definitely see three toes there," she said. 

They called the local paleontologist who examined the specimen and determined it's one of 14 rare tyrannosaurs worldwide. 

​"It's pretty big. It's a single footprint and it's fairly large, nearly 60 cm in length and from its shape, it's easy to tell it's from a large meat-eating dinosaur," said Richard McCrea, a palaeontologist at the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre in Tumbler Ridge, B.C.

The rare tyrannosaur footprint found by Helm is nearly 60 centimetres in length. Paleontologists recommend that people who send them photos of fossils include an object for scale. (Helm family)

"It can sometimes be a challenge to identify the maker of a single print, especially one that has been weathered by the elements. Even with the tips of the digits  eroded away, the footprint found by Carina Helm still possesses characteristics that make it identifiable as the product of a meat-eating dinosaur."

He speculated the track might have even been larger as the tip and claw of the longest toe have been eroded away.

He says the research centre plans to recover the specimen and bring it back to the museum for safeguarding, and go back to the area for further exploration.

"If Carina could find this track ... we might find a lot more footprints or trackways in the area, which would be interesting," he said. 

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