(Canadian Press photo)

First B.C. dinosaur skull discovered near Tumbler Ridge

A Vancouver Island man discovered it while hiking in northeastern B.C.

A piece of dinosaur skull unearthed in northeastern British Columbia earlier this month is the first of its kind discovered in the province, an expert says.

The fossilized tyrannosaur skull was found near Tumbler Ridge, in an area that has produced hundreds of dinosaur teeth, bones and footprints since 2001, but until this month had never yielded a skull.

Richard McCrea, director of the Peace Region Palaeaontology Research Centre, said the discovery means B.C. now has “some bones in the game” when it comes to researching the types, age and geographic range of dinosaurs — information that until now mostly originates from Alberta.

“We’re in a frontier in British Columbia because there’s been no research in this area,” he said. “This is quite a jump for us.”

Vancouver Island resident Rick Lambert spotted the skull while hiking through the area about 600 kilometres west of Edmonton.

A chiropractor who had once studied and worked in geology, Lambert has found hundreds of fossils including lobsters and crabs, but said discovering a dinosaur skull was a surprise.

“I never expected to find something like that. It’s not anything I actually kept my eye out for,” he said, adding that he was equally surprised to learn a skull had never been found in the region before.

“I thought at least they’d have four or five of those in a drawer somewhere,” Lambert said.

The 100 kilogram fossil — including the surrounding rock — features a boomerang-shaped bone from the upper jaw between the eye and nose of the dinosaur, with teeth projecting down.

McCrea said finding this specific peace of bone is significant because it can be used to determine the type of tyrannosaur it originated from.

Tyrannosaur is a grouping of dinosaurs that include the Albertosaurus and Gorgosaurus. McCrea said fossils of these dinosaurs date back about 74 or 75 million years.

The fossil is about 30 to 40 centimetres in length and about 25 centimetres tall at the highest point. McCrea said the full skull was likely close to metre long.

The bodies of tyrannosaurs matched their large skulls. McCrea said a tall person would struggle to reach the top of their back hip, with some having a hip height of over two metres, and could be eight to 10 metres in length.

Determining the type of tyrannosaur may take some time and involve comparing the fossil to others found in Alberta.

B.C.’s terrain makes finding fossils difficult because of the heavily-treed forests covering outcropping rock.

“To find something like this, it’s kind of like winning a lottery in a way because you have such a remote chance of finding something like this at all,” McCrea said.

Efforts are now underway to find more fossils connected to the skull, but the endeavour is not as simple as returning to the trail where it was found.

McCrea said the rock slab was actually moved to the area about 14 years, likely after being extracted from a quarry in the region.

“That actually gave us a little bit of a puzzle at first … because we have no record of large meat-eating dinosaurs from this area,” he said.

He said there are a few leads on the source of the rock and once that’s confirmed, he plans to take a look at the area.

Odds of finding the remainder of the skull are slim but confirming the original location would still provide valuable information about the geological context and even uncover other fossils.

“You don’t get anything at all if you don’t look and dig,” he said.

—Follow @Givetash on Twitter.

Linda Givetash, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Armstrong incident shocks employee

Worker transported to hospital following possible electrical shock at store

Wrestlers invade Kelowna and Vernon

Wrestling events this weekend benefit numerous Okanagan charities

Drive in support of the John Howard Society

Second annual Drive to Thrive slated for June 1 at the Spallumcheen Golf and Country Club

Video explains city infrastructure challenges

Three-minute animated video designed to inform residents on capital works and taxation

City flips for gymnastics request

Vernon supports in principle request for $225,000 from local club toward new building

Peppa Pig draws a crowd

Okanagan toddlers squirming with excitement over Peppa Pig

Penticton Speedway cleaning up landslide

Owner Johnny Aantjes expects the slide to be cleaned up in time for the next race on Sunday

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

New acts join Roots and Blues Festival lineup

An eclectic mix of musicians added to Salmon Arm’s slate

Laura Smith next to grace Nexus stage

Concert series welcomes award-winnig Canadian singer songwriter at the Nexus

Fighting racism is society’s job

BC Hockey’s plan to provide an education package makes a good first step

Proclaimers walk through the Okanagan

The Proclaimers play Vernon Sept. 11. Tickets on sale now through the Ticket Seller

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

Most Read