Paleontologist to Speak About the Marine Fossils Found in Manitoba

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posted February 1, 2012

BRANDON, MB — The Brandon University Science Seminar Series continues on Friday afternoon. The guest speaker is Assistant Curator of Paleontology at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre (CFDC), Joseph Hatcher. He will be on hand to give a free talk entitled Marine Vertebrate Fauna of a Xiphactinus Kill Zone from the Gammon Ferruginous Member (Pierre Shale), Manitoba.

“The Pierre Shale is a sedimentary rock formation made up of five smaller members that were deposited at the bottom of a vast inland seaway that covered Manitoba during the Late Cretaceous Period, about 80 million years ago,” Hatcher said. “While dinosaurs such as the meat-eating Albertosaurus and the horned dinosaur Styracosaurus roamed the lowland coastal plains of Alberta, the seaway in Manitoba was occupied by a host a oceanic reptiles like mosasaurs and plesiosaurs.”

Since 1934, when Charles M. Sternberg excavated the first mosasaur skull in Canada from a section of property on the Manitoba Escarpment, marine fossils have been discovered in abundance. Two years ago, the CFDC located a new site where two large skeletons were discovered — one of a rare 18-foot long prehistoric fish called Xiphactinus and the other a small mosasaur called Clidastes.

“The discovery of these two animals preserved in the same layer, and in direct contact with each other, had not been previously documented in the scientific literature,” said Hatcher. “Furthermore, geological investigations in partnership with the Manitoba Geological Survey confirmed that the skeletons were being excavated from the basal unit of the Pierre Shale, known as the Gammon Ferruginous Member.”

This significant find marked the first known outcrop of the Gammon Ferruginous Member in southern Manitoba, and the fossil record preserved has been reshaping the understanding of life and the environment of the Western Interior Seaway that covered Manitoba 80 million years ago.

The CFDC’s Joseph Hatcher will talk about “Marine Vertebrate Fauna of a Xiphactinus Kill Zone from the Gammon Ferruginous Member (Pierre Shale), Manitoba” at 3 p.m., Friday, February 3, in Room 447, Brodie Building. The public is welcome to attend this Brandon University Science Seminar Series’ presentation.

For more information, please contact:

Joanne F. Villeneuve
Brandon University
270 – 18th Street
Brandon, MB R7A 6A9
Tel. 204-727-9762


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