B.C.’s new fossil emblem an 80-million-year-old marine reptile called elasmosaur

B.C.'s new fossil emblem an 80-million-year-old marine reptile called elasmosaur
A fossil of a Puntledge River elasmosaur is shown at the Museum and Palaeontology Centre in Courtenay, B.C., in this undated handout photo.

British Columbia has officially designated a large, fierce-looking marine reptile that swam in waters off Vancouver Island 80 million years ago as the province’s official fossil emblem.

The government adopted the long-necked, sharp-toothed 12-metre elasmosaur as the fossil emblem on Thursday, adding to the list of provincial symbols.

The designation follows a five-year recognition effort by paleontology enthusiasts and a provincewide public poll in 2018 where the elasmosaur received 48 per cent of the votes.

Tourism Minister Lana Popham says in a statement the elasmosaur designation raises awareness that B.C. has a fossil heritage worthy of celebration and stewardship.

The first elasmosaur fossil was discovered in 1988, along the Puntledge River on Vancouver Island, marking the first fossil of its kind found west of the Canadian Rockies.

The elasmosaur lived along the coast of B.C., dating back to the Cretaceous period.

Other official B.C. emblems include the Pacific dogwood, Stellar’s jay, spirit bear, Pacific salmon, jade and the western red cedar.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2023.

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