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.


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.


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.


Feel free to leave a comment or question below.

An Exciting New Year

An Exciting New Year

As a museum-based researcher I enjoy sharing regular updates about research and discoveries occurring at the Fundy Geological Museum. It is rewarding to respond to questions from museum visitors and members, and exciting to share the new discoveries made in the field or research lab. The online updates have attracted many people to become involved in the museum’s programs.

As 2015 approaches, it is clear that the coming year will be filled with new adventures and discoveries. It will be a busy year with several exciting projects going to launch during the next several months.

Dino Hunt Canada – On History Channel

Dino Hunt logo

The new History Channel documentary series Dino Hunt Canada will include an episode on Nova Scotia dinosaur research occurring at the Museum.

The first episode of the series airs January 30th.

Visit the History Channel website : http://dinohuntcanada.history.ca

Image of Nova Scotia prosauropods from upcoming History Channel episode.

Dinosaurs Unearthed – Museum of Natural History

We are also busy developing a new exhibit focused on “Canada’s Oldest Dinosaurs in Nova Scotia” that will be on display at the Museum of Natural History (Halifax, NS) from Januray 30 to May 24.

The Nova Scotia Dinosaurs exhibit will include casts of dinosaur bones and footprints found along the shores of the Bay of Fundy near Parrsboro, as well as video that shows the 3D scanning and digital reconstruction of the rich deposit of at least six dinosaur skeletons that have are being studied at the Fundy Geological Museum.

In 2015, the eDinos.ca website will be more active with updates of the 3D scanning and other projects going on at the Fundy Geological Museum.

Thank you

Thank you to all the visitors and members who have made donations to support the research and education programs. Your support is so valuable and greatly appreciated.  Please continue to follow along during the exciting year ahead.

If you have questions, or just want to let us know what you are thinking, leave some comments below.

Wishing you a Happy Holiday filled with new dinosaurs and adventure.

A Dinosaur Bone – Molding and Casting

A Dinosaur Bone – Molding and Casting

The prosauropod dinosaur skeletons at the Fundy Geological Museum are 200 million years old. They are extremely fragile and must be handled carefully to maintain them in safe (archival) condition.  The Fossil Research Lab at the Fundy Geological Museum is where these and other Nova Scotia fossils are treated and studied.

The  staff and researchers at the Fundy Geological Museum are working to produce 3D digital scans of the dinosaur bones still entombed in large blocks of sandstone.

Meanwhile, other Nova Scotia Museum staff are preparing high quality molds and casts of the dinosaur specimens for display during the upcoming dinosaur show in Halifax. These casts ensure the dinosaur fossil can be examined by other scientists and the public without damaging the original that is in museum collections storage.

Molding and Casting – Prosauropod Femur

One of the larger specimens from the prosauropod dinosaur bone bed at the Princeton Quarry is the complete left femur collected in 1997.

  • The specimen is associated with several other limb bones (right femur, hip bone) and represents one of six dinosaurs that was entombed in the sandstone bed that preserves the skeletons.
  • The specimen also shows the characteristic fault offsets that can be seen in nearly all fossil specimens recovered from the site in Nova Scotia. The real dinosaur fossil is on display in Parrsboro, at the Fundy Geological Museum.

Jurassic dinosaur bone from Nova Scotia

The femur will be used in an upcoming exhibit that will use high resolution casts of the original fossil specimen. The preparation of the museum casts involves expert knowledge and skills. Mold making remains an important skill today.

The first step in creating a high quality reproduction of a the dinosaur femur is to create a mold.

Making mold of dinosaur bone from Nova Scotia

In this case the museum staff are creating a mold based on the “master cast”,  a plaster reproduction made from a previous mold. This new mold will become used to produce a cast for public display, as well as research casts that will be used for museum scientists for hundreds of years.

Molding a dinosaur bone from Nova Scotia

The museum mold maker is an expert at handling delicate artifacts and preparing high quality molds that will last many years.

The mold maker first prepares a supportive base that encases the fossil specimen. This will be the surface of the first side of the mold. The surface includes pour spout and a vent to allow air to escape. The mold maker will pour non-shrinking silicon rubber (Platsil 71-20) onto this surface and encase the bone in a two piece flexible rubber mold.  But before the mold can be made, it needs some walls.

The wall around the prepared fossil specimen is made of clay and held in place with plastic supports. These walls provide the structure that contains the first side of the mold. The mold maker then carefully applies the liquid rubber to the surface of the fossil and fills walls to the required depth.

A update article will be published by December 30, 2014.