Recently, we visited at the Vertebrate Palaeontology Lab to see how dinosaur bones are extracted from their plaster field jackets after they are hauled back from the field by palaeontologists like Dr. David Evans.
But where does the ROM store these fossils once they are free from their rock matrix? Welcome to Vertebrate Palaeontology Collections room, housing more than 75,000 fossilized bone specimens ranging in size from small toes to an entire row of Hadrosaur skulls!
The weather forecast was pretty much on the money, and a dismal dawn yields to thunder-squalls rolling across the tundra. But, after breakfast and a second cup of coffee, the rain eases and we are a shade more optimistic about our flight out later this morning. Time for one last walkabout of our temporary home.
Away to the airport this morning to see Ed off to Winnipeg - there goes our ace bear protection and GPS expert! At least we had a chance to do the firearms familiarization before his departure, so all are up to speed on handling various pyrotechnic deterrents. I’ll ride shotgun in Ed’s absence, with Matt as backup, and incoming member Sean adds another pair of sharp eyes to the fossil team.
Clear skies at last! Down to the coast to catch good morning lighting and a fortuitously low tide, so we can see in detail how fossil-bearing Upper Ordovician carbonate deposits (445 million years old) at our main locality “lap” against the elevated flanks of a much more ancient rock mass. This highly resistant Proterozoic (about 2500 million-year-old) quartzite body is the remnant of a small island that formed part of an archipelago in shallow Ordovician subtropical seas.
Walking through the badlands is like walking through a western novel: canyons cut through the prairie, exposing layers of brown, gold, black and white sediment. Clichés keep popping up: tumbleweeds roll by, cactus pop out from unexpected places, and cattle skulls bleach in the sun. Scorpions hide in coal seams, soaking up the sun’s heat from the black rock that camouflages them. It’s a bit overwhelming at first, but once you accept the fact that you’re in a place unlike anywhere else in Canada, it all becomes simple and beautiful.