Hiking for Fossils

Fallen inukshuk. Shaded blue, just because.
Well, it’s been a pretty interesting week! On Tuesday, we were planning to stay inside due to the rain when an impromptu school dig tour showed up. Luckily, the dig itself was fine and the shale was good and dry for excavation underneath the top layer, but when the kids tried to leave, the bus got stuck! This has happened in previous years, but it was the first time it had occurred on one of my tours. Thankfully, a farmer who lived nearby pulled the bus out with his tractor and the group went on its way home.
Fish fin, with a pocketknife to indicate size.
We went to Pembina Valley Provincial Park on Wednesday for the first time this season. I’ve never been there before and the view at the top of the hills is pretty nice, although you won’t be too impressed if you’ve seen mountains before. Part of the initial trail was all nasty and busted up, so we followed a creek bed in order to join up with another path. It turned out to be a fortuitous obstacle; since although a couple of us slipped and ended up with wet shoes, we were lucky enough to find a whole bunch of fish vertebrae in the shale under the water, including five in an articulated vertebral column (forming a recognizable spine). These particular fossils, being from the Boyne shale, are jet black and very distinctive when compared to the grey surrounding rock, making them easy to spot. The rest of the hike was great; not too hot, few mosquitoes, and an absence of the rain that that we’ve had nearly every day this week.
The articulated vertebral column.
Accordingly, the last two days have been wet and dreary, meaning there’s been no field activity. Tomorrow’s supposed to be nice and sunny, though, which is great because that’s when the Morden Block Party is happening! If you’ve got some free time, head down to Stephen St. and visit our booth; it’ll be open all day. There’s free food, too (or so I’ve heard). Next week, we’ll be at Kidsfest in Winnipeg from Thursday to Sunday, so if you can’t make it to Morden tomorrow, then be sure to see us at the Forks! With any luck, all the rain will be finished by then.
Scattered fish backbones.

Matt Remple

Field Tech