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Evidence of life 200-million years ago in Bay of Fundy

June 30 , 2016

By Karen Graham

Parrsboro - Researchers in Nova Scotia have been digging in the sandstone cliffs along the shore of the Bay of Fundy, looking for 200-million-year-old bone fragments dating to the early Jurassic period.

Tim Fedak, the director of the Fundy Geological Museum in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia says the museum crew has unearthed bones of lizards from the early Jurassic period and what looks to be the snout of a carnivorous dinosaur, one of the first fossil's of a meat-eater to be found near the port community.
Fedak explained to CBC News Canada that the fossil finds along Wasson Bluff date back to a time of great evolutionary change on Earth. The fossils they have found mark the end of the mass-extinction event at the end of the Triassic period and the advent of new species.

“The bones that we’re finding here on the Bay of Fundy shore represent the survivors,” Fedak said in an interview Saturday, according to The Star. “Any little evidence we can get of who survived and what they were doing can be helpful for studies of evolution.”
According to Fedak, the museum's annual trips to the sandstone cliffs are always an adventure. The forceful tides of the Bay of Fundy, known for having the highest tidal range in the world, continually erode the rocks, exposing new specimens.
“It’s important for us to continue to monitor these sites and collect material as it’s at the surface,” Fedak said. “The skull bone from the dinosaur that I found . . . that would have been eroded in about a month or so. A good heavy rain and it would have taken it right away.”

Project Prosauropod
The really neat thing about the geological museum is that it invites volunteers to join them in the field, including scientists, geologists, and even a father-son team. The museum also has a virtual research lab called Project Prosauropod. This came about after researchers announced they had discovered 100,000 pieces of fossilized bone along the shore of the Bay of Fundy in 1986.
The discovery was the largest ever found in North America and was doubly exciting because the fossils dated to the Triassic-Jurassic boundary period. The fossils provide many clues to what happened during that time, adding to our knowledge of the mass extinction period and the evolution of species in the early Jurrasic period.
The geology that makes the Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy is geologically interesting, all by itself. The bay lies in a rift valley called the Fundy Basin. It contains three sub-basins; the Fundy sub-basin, the Minas Basin, and the Chignecto Basin, and they all meet in the Bay of Fundy. As a part of the Eastern North America Rift Basins, the Bay of Fundy is subject to extremes of tides and tidal bores.

As the rift began to separate from mainland North America, volcanic activity was produced and the eruptions caused gigantic layers of basalt to flood over the land. Much of southern Nova Scotia was covered in this basaltic sediment. North Mountain is a good example of part of a basaltic mountain range. The rift valley eventually disappeared as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge separated, splitting Iceland and separating the North American and Eurasian Plates.
The early Jurassic epoch
The early Jurassic epoch is the very earliest of three epochs in the Jurassic period. Just imagine, now, this period began immediately after the Triassic-Jurassic extinction event, 200-million-years ago. It ended about 25-million years later at the beginning of the middle Jurassic period.

It was during this early period that ammonoids, which had almost died out in the extinction event, began to spread out with a huge diversity of life forms. Actually, this animal, now extinct but closely related to coleoids (squid and octopus) today, is called an "index" fossil because it is often possible to link a rock layer where the fossil was found with a particular species and geologic time period.
Now this, among other clues is what makes the fossil finds in the Bay of Fundy region so important to geologists studying the evolution of early species of life. So anyone visiting Nova Scotia should be sure to make a stop at the Geological Museum in Parrsboro.



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