Description of the first unequivocal dinosaur trackway from the Horseshoe Canyon Formation near Morrin, AB
Speakers: Mark Powers and Matthew Rhodes
Mark Powers1, Stephen Mendonca2, Matthew Rhodes1,
Ryan Wilkinson1, Matthew Pruden2, Philip Currie1
and Gregory Funston1
of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta | 2. Department
of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta
Location: Mount Royal University, Room B108
Time: November 15, 2019, 7:30 pm
*CSPG members can register for free and track their CPD hours!
Animal behaviour can be inferred from the traces they leave behind. This is true for modern and extinct animals as their traces can be captured in the fossil record. These trace fossils are referred to as ichnofossils, and a variety of behaviours can be represented by ichnofossils including, feeding, mating, burrowing, and movement. Ichnofossils representing dinosaur behaviour are most commonly represented by footprints which give us indicators for locomotion and social behaviours. Footprints are preserved when extinct animals step into soft substrates that morph around the track makers foot. When this substrate hardens quickly, and is subsequently buried, it can become lithified in the rock record to be discovered later. The most common form of preservation is depressions, that are molds of the trackmakers feet, preserved on large concreted slabs of rock. An alternative preservation, less commonly reported on, are natural casts of the track maker’s feet. These occur when the animal leaves the impression of its foot and this mold is then infilled with a sediment. During lithification it is the infills which become more concreted than their surrounding rocks and therefore are more resistant to the effects of weathering. The Horseshoe Canyon Formation of Alberta, Canada, has produced a number of footprints of various dinosaur groups. However, these footprints are often isolated, too incomplete to identify possible track makers, or restricted to a pair of footprints. In 2017, a University of Alberta team discovered the first unequivocal dinosaur trackway in the Morrin member of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation, near Morrin Alberta.
The trackway is comprised of concretionary casts of large tridactyl footprints. The preservation of the footprints is so detailed that skin impressions are preserved on several of the footprints. The underside of one collected footprint even shows evidence of invertebrate burrows through the cast of the heel. Three footprints are in series with alternating morphologies indicative of a left-right relationship, suggesting a single individual track maker. Other footprints were found at the site but cannot be confidently identified as belonging to the same track maker, or a different individual. Many of the footprints identified at the site are small, arcuate casts which are similar to the footprints of the forefoot previously described for hadrosaurs. This in combination with large, tridactyl pedal footprints, strongly suggests the track maker was a large hadrosaur dinosaur. Given our knowledge of the hadrosaurs which lived during this time the track maker is most likely one of three hadrosaur genera; Edmontosaurus, Hypacrosaurus, or Saurolophus. The spacing and orientation of the footprints suggests the animal was walking in a paleo north direction which may have implications for migration hypotheses previously proposed for hadrosaurs.
Mark Powers – BSc Paleontology, MSc student
Born in Calgary Alberta and grew up in Eckville Alberta. Passion for palaeontology came from concurring his fear of dinosaurs at a young age after his mother took him to see Jurassic Park in theatres at the tender age of two. Despite a general interest in animals, he has always come back to dinosaurs as the centre of his infatuation. His particular interests focus around predator-prey relationships with an inkling toward the predator side of the equation. Upon finishing highschool, his son, Adam Brozny-Powers was born. Mark took a few years off school, working and raising his son before going back to pursue his dream of palaeontology. During his undergraduate degree he served as an executive member of the University of Alberta Palaeontological Society for a year and then two more during his master’s degree. He completed his undergrad, specialization in paleontology, with distinction at University of Alberta and started a master’s in 2017 with Dr. Philip Currie, studying the snouts of dromaeosaurid ‘raptor’ dinosaurs and their biogeographical significance.
Matthew Rhodes – BSc Paleontology, MSc Systematics and Evolution
Born in Calgary Alberta and grew up in Nanton Alberta. Matthew has always had a sharp mind and an interest in pursuing knowledge. Like many children, dinosaurs offered a world of fascination that enticed his imagination and inspired him to pursue science. He was involved in scouts where he developed his wilderness skills as well as an appreciation for the natural world. He worked for several years at the Aviation museum in Nanton as an interpreter and even appeared in a short film depicting World War II pilots in action. After highschool Matthew began his undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta where he spent several years in the University of Alberta Palaeontological Society as an executive member, joined a dodgeball team within Lister residence and acted as a residence assistant throughout most of his four years in lister, all while still graduating with honours from his undergrad in palaeontology in 2016. He then went on to complete a master’s in systematics and evolution with Dr. Philip Currie. His thesis focused on hindlimb reconstruction of coelurosaurian theropods and inferences on locomotion.
In addition to the main presentation by Mark Powers and Matthew Rhodes, Daegan Kovacs will provide a brief presentation.
Discovering Mary Anning’s Jurassic Coast
Speaker: Daegan Kovacs
I travelled to England in the spring of 2018, and while on vacation I went to the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO world heritage site. It was designated under UNESCO because, despite being called the Jurassic Coast, it contains a mostly continuous rock strata spanning 185 million years of the Mesozoic, and shows how the environment changed over that time. It spans a distance of 154km from East Devon to East Dorset along England's southern shores. It is well known for its incredible cliffs and equally amazing fossils. I will focus on the 2 fossil sites that I visited, one at Charmouth and the most famous one at Lyme Regis where none other than Mary Anning lived. I visited museums at each site including a museum named after Anning, and I will also speak about just who Ms. Anning actually was and some of the challenges she faced. Finally I will speak about how different the fossils of the Jurassic Coast are compared to most of Alberta's fossils, as was the world these animals inhabited almost 200 million years ago. I hope you enjoy Discovering Mary Anning's Jurassic Coast.
Daegan Kovacs is a homeschooled student partnered with Willow Home Education. He is currently working towards a diploma, finishing off his core grade 11 courses such as Physics 20, Math 20-1, and English 20-1. His learning has taken him to natural history museums in Drumheller, Bozeman, San Diego, Nebraska, and London, England as well as to sites in Western North America and, as mentioned above, the Jurassic Coast in England. His interests include vertebrate palaeontology, entomology, and zoology.