Tiny tracks were fossil hunter Eldon George’s big find
Eldon George, a Canadian amateur geologist, has died aged 87.
George became a big name in the world of fossil hunters when he discovered the world’s smallest dinosaur tracks.
He took up searching for minerals in the 1940s and displayed his treasures at his own museum in the town where he was born – Parrsboro, Nova Scotia. His dogged pursuit meant his fame spread far and wide and he was featured in publications including the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times and National Geographic, as well appearing in a five-part CBC Television series called Geologic Journey,
Born in 1931, his interest began after his right arm was fractured in a fall when he was nine. The injury healed poorly, leaving him unable to play sports with his friends, so he began exploring the beaches and cliffs near his home, collecting rocks and teaching himself gemology.
He opened his Rock and Mineral Shop and Museum in Parrsboro in 1948 and displayed his huge collection of specimens there until he sold the business in 2015 and donated the collection to Parrsboro’s Fundy Geological Museum.
His discoveries altered scientific views, not least the moment in 1984 when he picked out what appeared to be tiny tracks at Wasson Bluff, on the shores of the Minas Basin.
Using a pocket knife, he gradually exposed five fossil trackways imprinted in a slab of sandstone. The prints were later determined to have belonged to a theropod dinosaur about the size of a small bird, such as a sparrow or robin. Two years later, a scientific team discovered hundreds of thousands of fossils at Wasson Bluff, in what became one of the biggest troves ever found.
In 2013, George received the Order of Nova Scotia, the province’s highest honour, for bringing the world’s attention to its geological heritage.
His other finds included a track that may have been left by a primitive, two-legged, crocodile-like creature, a fossilised insect with three pairs of wings and a tiny horseshoe crab that supplies a “missing link” in the area’s natural history.
Eldon George found ancient tracks.