Bay of Fundy fossils may hold evolutionary secrets of the dawn of the dinosaurs
Forceful Bay of Fundy tides erode the rocks, continually exposing new specimens
Researchers are digging through the sandstone cliffs on the Nova Scotia shore of the Bay of Fundy in search of 200-million-year-old bone fragments that could reveal more about the diversity of life at the dawn of the dinosaurs.
The director of the Fundy Geological Museum said the crew has unearthed bones of lizards from the early Jurassic period and the tip of the snout of what he believes could be a meat-eating dinosaur, one of the first to be found near the port community of Parrsboro.
Tim Fedak said the fossils scattered along Wasson Bluff date back to a time of great evolutionary change, marking the boundary between the mass extinction event at the end of Triassic period and the rapid proliferation of species that followed.
"The bones that we're finding here on the Bay of Fundy shore represent the survivors," Fedak said in an interview Saturday. "Any little evidence we can get of who survived and what they were doing can be helpful for studies of evolution."
The bones are dispersed in layers of red sediment, according to Fedak. He said the forceful tides of Fundy erode the rocks, continually exposing new specimens, making the museum's annual research trips all the more valuable.
"It's important for us to continue to monitor these sites and collect material as it's at the surface," Fedak said. "The skull bone from the dinosaur that I found ... that would have been eroded in about a month or so. A good heavy rain and it would have taken it right away."
In addition to staff, the museum has invited volunteers out to the field, including a father-son team, trained scientists and geology hobbyists.
Fedak said working with the delicate fossils can be "therapeutic" and he hopes to expand the volunteer program in the future so more paleontology enthusiasts can get their hands dirty.
The researchers plan to stream a live video feed from the dig site on Monday afternoon and will take questions from online users.