B.C. paleontologists unearth dinosaur bones from as far back as 75 million years

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A team of paleontologists has unearthed dinosaur bones near Tumbler Ridge, B.C., dating as far back as 75 million years.

Rich McCrea and Lisa Buckley, the province's only such experts, are taking great pleasure in debunking the theory that remnants of the titanic creatures don't exist below British Columbia's surface layers.

McCrea said the bones are from the Upper Cretaceous period and are from a Hadrosaur and a Tyrannosaur, the big predator of the era.

A Hadrosaur rib from the Upper Cretaceous period, dating as far back as 75 million years. It was discovered by paleontologists in Tumbler Ridge, B.C., where the dig is continuing. - Photo by The Canadian Press

DAWSON CREEK, B.C. - A team of paleontologists has unearthed dinosaur bones near Tumbler Ridge, B.C., dating as far back as 75 million years.

Rich McCrea and Lisa Buckley, the province's only such experts, are taking great pleasure in debunking the theory that remnants of the titanic creatures don't exist below British Columbia's surface layers.

McCrea said the bones are from the Upper Cretaceous period and are from a Hadrosaur and a Tyrannosaur, the big predator of the era.

"We've found broken or shed Tyrannosaur teeth near rib and vertebrae of a Hadrosaur, so one scenario could be the Tyrannosaur tucked into a dead Hadrosaur and went to town and some teeth fell out or broke off on the bones," McCrea said.

"Aren't you beautiful," McCrea said, as he popped off a plastered cervical bone to reveal a rib underneath.

The bone, most likely of a Hadrosaur, which was a duck-billed dinosaur, brought some excitement to the dig this week.

"These bones look like they could extend well into the bank," McCrea said, as he carefully brushed the bone with glue to prevent the fragments from crumbling.

McCrea and Buckley started prospecting north of town last summer as they looked for hills or significant outcroppings that could hide pieces of a lost world.

They found 90 kilograms of bone just sitting on the surface of a sloping bank and knew they'd hit a jackpot.

"We didn't have much hope of finding a site because the area is so flat, but it turns out you don't need a hill to score," McCrea said.

Earlier this month, the duo returned with shovels, picks and plasters to begin a full-scale dig into the dinosaur graveyard.

The team spent a week and a half removing up to 45 tonnes of rock and dirt to get to the bone bed, where the pieces were nicely separated and not in fragments.

Buckley said only a few bones had been attacked by plant roots or erosion.

"These are great museum-quality finds," McCrea said.

The paleontologists will continue to work on the dig for another four to five years while they explore other potential sites in the province.

"We've no doubt that there are other sites, they just need to be discovered," McCrea said.

Dinosaur bones have been discovered at only two other sites near Tumbler Ridge, the last time in 2004.

A few years ago, the unearthed bones would have been shipped to facilities in Alberta but that's no longer necessary because of a small dinosaur gallery in town.

However, the limited space means it can house only one per cent of the fossil finds.

The facility will be upgraded to a decommissioned school triple the current size to showcase more bones to the public.

While residents are hoping the expansion will boost the number of visitors to the town and the South Peace region, the paleontologists have dreams of a dinosaur museum in B.C.

Geographic location: B.C., DAWSON CREEK, British Columbia Alberta South

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