Tiny tracks were fos­sil hunter El­don Ge­orge’s big find

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - FAMILY ANNOUNCEMENTS -

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.

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