Mosasaur fossils discovered in Southern Alberta mine
A local mining company has made not one, but two pre-historic discoveries.
Enchanted Designs, an ammolite mining and jewelry company, was working in an area south of Lethbridge on January 26 when they found something out of the ordinary.
Joe Sanchez, Head Technician at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, says the crew uncovered part of the skull and shoulder girdle of a mosasaur, a large marine reptile that lived during the late Cretaceous period 145.5 million to 65 million years ago.
After taking the initial sample back to the museum for analysis, Sanchez tells LNN that they sent another crew to the site on February 7.
“We were able to uncover that we had a relatively complete mosasaur from the skull that we had discovered earlier, all the way down to the tip of the tail.”
While officials with the museum continued their search, miners worked in another nearby area and found more fossils from a different mosasaur.
“Any time that we find anything relatively complete like these, it really helps us in our understanding of these specific animals.”
Sanchez says it will likely take months, perhaps even a couple of years, to fully analyze the fossils and to have researchers from other institutions conduct their own investigations.
This is hardly the first notable fossil found in the region.
One reason for the many fossil discoveries is that it has the right types of exposed rocks. According to Sanchez, when the glaciers retreated from the area, it removed all of the younger rocks, exposing more earth from the Late Cretaceous period.
“There used to be a seaway that cut through much of North America and the seaway fossils have a better chance of preserving underwater in general. So I mean, mosasaurs lived in these seaways that were cutting across here and then dying in that environment already gives them a slightly better chance of preserving.”
Sanchez was unable to say how large these particular mosasaurs were, but the largest one identified to date was estimated to be 56 feet long.
They are generally smaller than the ones shown in the Jurassic World movies, but are believed to have been among the most dominant water-based predators of its era.