Drumheller res­i­dent hiker makes cu­ri­ous dis­cov­ery

The Drumheller Mail - - NEWS - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail mailphoto by Pa­trick Ko­lafa DRUMHELLER

For the many years that Doug Wade has lived in the val­ley and hiked the hills with ex­plorer zeal, his most re­cent fos­sil dis­cov­ery is an ex­cep­tional cu­rios­ity.

Doug Wade dis­cov­ered what he be­lieves to be a fos­sil on a Mon­day morn­ing walk near his home east of DVSS. Cov­ered in mud was a heavy horse­shoe shaped mass, about 10 inches in di­am­e­ter. By out­ward ap­pear­ances, it looked like at one time bone ma­te­rial.

“When I picked it up and turned it over I saw the bot­tom and I thought ‘this is weird,’” he tells The Mail. “So I took it home and cleaned it up. It is a bone I be­lieve.”

Af­ter clean­ing up the find re­vealed that some­one has used a con­crete saw to make a clean cut right through the find.

“It makes me cu­ri­ous; Who cut this? When did they cut this? Why did they leave it?” he asks.

He is plan­ning to take the bone to the Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum in hopes they can an­swer some of his ques­tions about what his find may be.

“I have talked to so many peo­ple in the val­ley who find fos­sils, of­ten in the spring af­ter the snow and wa­ter ero­sion, lots of th­ese are sit­ting on the sur­face,” he said.

Dis­cov­er­ing fos­sils is what makes the val­ley fa­mous. Dan Spivak, head, re­source man­age­ments pro­gram, at the Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum, re­minds hik­ers there are a few things for am­a­teurs fos­sil hunters to re­mem­ber.

“The Al­berta His­tor­i­cal Re­source’s Act es­sen­tially cov­ers the col­lec­tion and own­er­ship of all his­tor­i­cal re­sources in Al­berta. That in­cludes palaeon­to­log­i­cal re­sources, to fos­sils, which we are most fa­mil­iar with at the mu­seum, But also arche­o­log­i­cal ar­ti­facts, like ar­row heads, ham­mer stones and tipi rings, stuff like that,” said Spivak.

He has some sim­ple ad­vice for peo­ple who come across what they be­lieve is a fos­sil in the back­coun­try.

“The first thing we gen­er­ally ask is if it looks like there is more there than just the lit­tle bit you see on the sur­face, leave it where it is. Take a pho­to­graph of it, look around and see if there are any land­marks or any­thing no­table that would al­low them to get back to it, or al­low us to get to the site,” he said. “And then give us a call at the Mu­seum.”

Smart phones can be use­ful to get a GPS read­ing of the site, or al­low a per­son to pin­point it on a map.

Any finds are the prop­erty of the prov­ince, and in fact, the Mu­seum is lo­cated in a pro­vin­cial park. This means that re­mov­ing or col­lect­ing the find is pro­hib­ited.

“There are a lot of peo­ple who will come out in the sum­mer and walk the interpretive trails and pick up stuff want­ing to take things home. But un­der the parks act, even pick­ing it up is against the law.”

Out­side of the park he said if some­one finds some­thing that might be sig­nif­i­cant, to give them a call.

“One of our cu­ra­tors here han­dles all those emails re­gard­ing fos­sil iden­ti­fi­ca­tion en­quiries,” he said. “Typ­i­cally if it is some­thing sur­face col­lected that is not of sig­nif­i­cance out­side the park, the per­son who finds it can take it home, put it on their man­tle, and let their kids take it for show and tell, they just can’t sell or trade it. They can’t dam­age it and they can’t take it out of the prov­ince.

He says the mu­seum does see ev­i­dence from time to time of peo­ple il­le­gally col­lect­ing fos­sils. The ev­i­dence of the saw cut could be a sign of this.

“Gen­er­ally peo­ple are un­trained. It looks rally easy when you watch it on TV or in a documentary but there is a real tech­nique to it to make sure the fos­sils aren’t dam­aged,’ he said.

“A lot of the at­tempts in the val­ley that I have seen, they tend to be hack jobs. They go in and make more of a mess out of the bones than any­thing else,” he said. He en­cour­ages those who find some­thing that is cu­ri­ous, to let them know.

“One thing I have learned over my time is never iden­tify a fos­sil over the phone,” he chuck­les. “You see a lot a rocks…but I can’t stress enough, we would rather see 100 of those, and get one re­ally good fos­sil out of it than not see them at all.”

Doug Wade dis­cov­ered what he be­lieves to be a fos­sil hik­ing near his home. Some­one had used a rock saw to cut through the find.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.