Coastal Erosion and Drawing

Coastal Erosion and Drawing

The Wasson Bluff site is designated under the Special Places Protection Act (1989) as a protected place that prohibits any collection of fossils or minerals without obtaining a Heritage Research Permit. The following work was carried out under an approved Heritage Research Permit (2015).

Status of the Cliff Exposures

The erosion of the coastal cliffs at Wasson Bluff provide an opportunity for discovery of new fossils, including new bones from Canada’s oldest dinosaurs.  The site is monitored regularly by researchers at the Fundy Geological Museum. The monitoring and collecting of fossil material is justified due to the extreme richness of the site and importance for representing the time immediately after the global mass extinction that occurred at the end of the Triassic Period.

  • Careful collecting of small vertebrate fossils provides an opportunity to establish a rich stratigraphic record of the animal diversity following the mass extinction event at the end of the Triassic Period.
  • The ongoing erosion of the sandstone cliffs exposes a rich fossil record, including bones of dinosaurs, lizards (Clevosaurus), mammal-like reptiles (tritylodont and trithelodont), as well as semionotid (fresh water) fish and hybodont shark teeth and fin spines.

Drawing and Mapping Fieldwork

To document the location (stratigraphic layer) of the fossils, researchers create drawings, maps and take photographs of the cliff. The location is then determined by measuring the height in meters from a base layer, such as the contact with the underlying basalt.

Recent field work has begun to establish a new map of fossil bearing layers. Future work will also establish a high-resolution digital archive of the surface exposures and ongoing erosional processes. The information will be of value for studies of fossil material as well as identification of features related to coastal erosion during a period of climate change and rising sea level.

Scientists that do fieldwork often draw research sketches when conducting research. Researchers also use sophisticated photography and 3D scanning technology to document and study the coastal cliffs, but drawing is an activity that helps researchers observe important details. Below is an example of a recent field sketch done to document the piles of erosional debris at the dinosaur research site.

Field Sketch and Photo

Move slider across the image to see a field sketch and comparable photograph of the dinosaur bone bed strata and erosion debris visible July 2015.

Caution Around Cliffs

The coastal cliffs in Nova Scotia are actively eroding and caution should be used when walking near cliffs. Large scale collapse of cliffs can occur, but injury can occur from even a small rock falling from the cliff. Learn how to practice coastal cliff safety. Stay away from debris piles at the base of a cliff, as these signal increased danger due to active erosion.

 

3D Study of Jurassic Dinosaurs from Nova Scotia

3D Study of Jurassic Dinosaurs from Nova Scotia

Fossil Research Lab Update : 1502-1
Fundy Geological Museum

3D Scan of Leg-Foot

The museum researchers are creating a 3D scan of the block containing the lower leg and foot of one of the Jurassic dinosaurs from Nova Scotia. After repositioning the tibia using a custom-made plaster cradle, the block is being imaged for photogrammatry scanning.

3d Scanning of Jurassic Dinosaurs from Nova Scotia

Here is a preliminary visual analysis completed with the 3D scan.

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3D Scan of Skull Block

After completing the 3D scan of the foot block, the skull block will be 3D scanned to study how the bones of the skull were displaced when the skeleton was buried. Below is an animation that shows how the skull bones appear to have been displaced just prior or during burial, 200 million years ago.

Visit Parrsboro to See More

When you visit the Fundy Geological Museum in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, you have an opportunity to look into the Fossil Research Lab to see the fossils being studied. Real dinosaur bones are also on display in the museum’s gallery.

This winter the Fundy Geological Museum is changing some of the displays of the Nova Scotia dinosaur specimens. New specimens will be put on display in April 2015.

Questions/Comments – Please leave a comment below.

 

Jurassic Dinosaur GF69

Jurassic Dinosaur GF69

Two Hundred Million Years Ago

At the dawn of the Jurassic Period – a small group of dinosaurs was rapidly buried by a sand dune that collapsed on edge of a seasonal river channel. These 200 million year old Jurassic dinosaur skeletons are found today on the northern shore of the Bay of Fundy, near Parrsboro, Nova Scotia.  These are the oldest dinosaur bones in Canada.

The first articulated skeleton found in Nova Scotia is a small ‘prosauropod’ dinosaur, specimen FGM994G69.

In the summer of 1992, during the field trip during a conference of professional geologists (GAC), Bob Grantham, then Curator of Geology of the Nova Scotia Museum, discovered fragments of the dinosaur skeleton low in the sandstone cliff.  Over the next two years, the Curator at the Fundy Geological Museum (K. Adams) worked with George Hrynewich (citizen scientist) to collect the important specimen.  Subsequent study of GF69 has supported by a Nova Scotia Museum Research Grant (1997) and research grants from the Canadian Geographic Society (1998) and the Jurassic Foundation.

Study Context

Dinosaur skeleton GF69 is special because the bones remain articulated together and the dinosaur is nearly complete. The skeleton is missing the skull and left front leg but is otherwise preserved.

Like all dinosaurs from this research site, the bones of the skeleton have been sliced and shifted due to ancient earthquakes that occurred as the supercontinent Pangea was breaking apart. These geological “faults” shifted the bones as the earth trembled 200 million years ago. However, one of the unique features of GF69 are the dislocated toes preserved in the skeleton. The toes were bent backward and crushed under the weight of the dinosaur’s body. These dislocated toes of the dinosaur have been preserved in the sandstone for 200 million years.

Dislocated toes of Jurassic Dinosaur foot.

Recent Analysis

Using the digital Plateosaurus 3D model (Credit: Heinrich Mallison), an analysis began in 2014, to examine the rotational orientation of the right rear leg of the dinosaur to result in a burial pose as preserved in specimen GF69.

The video shows how the right rear foot becomes oriented under the weight of the body through a series of rotations of the femur, tibia, ankle, and phalanx bones of the toes. The femur bends upward and the tibia flexes as the toes become bent backward and dislocated due to the weight of the body. – TJ Fedak, 2015.

Resources

Mallison, H. 2010. The digital Plateosaurus II: An assessment of the range of motion of the limbs and vertebral column and of previous reconstructions using a digital skeletal mount.

Upcoming

Using data provided by the 3D model further research will show how the skeleton was then distorted due to geological faults that affect the entire shore line of the Bay of Fundy.

 Questions/Comments

Feel free to leave a comment or question below.