About Updates

Records of Scientific Inquiry

The Earthquake Dinosaurs Facebook page provides new levels of online community engagement.  At the time of writing this post, there are 1938 individuals receiving updates when new steps have been taken research projects.  In a year’s time that number might become much larger (10,000 or more). The global Facebook audience widens the opportunity for social engagement with natural history research programs.

Earthquake Dinosaurs Updates provide information about ongoing Jurassic Paleontology research projects as examples of scientific inquiry and museum-based natural history research.

The Triassic-Jurassic boundary (geological time-period) is of interest from ecological and evolutionary perspectives.

  • During this time the ancient supercontinent Pangaea ruptures to form the continents of today; earthquakes and tectonic plates as evolving earth,
  • continental sized magma comes to the surface (Central Atlantic Magmatic Province),
  • a supergreenhouse environment from rapid CO2 (from basalt magma) and methane increase in atmosphere.
  • end-Triassic global mass extinction followed by Early Jurassic recovery; Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Mammals.

The skeletons of Canada’s oldest dinosaurs and primitive mammal-like reptiles are preserved in the sandstone cliffs that line the shores of the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia.  The Earthquake Dinosaurs site provides an opportunity for public to… join in the discovery.

Check back again in the future to see the final digital presentation of some scientifically important specimens.  Let us know when you have questions about anything you see. 





Dig 2013 Updates

Photogrammetry for Dinosaur Excavation

Preparations for a new dinosaur dig in August are focusing on three goals.

  1. Collection and documentation of dinosaur bones at erosional level of cliff
  2. Development of a 3D digital photogram of the quarry and cliff, to document specimen locations and coastal erosion.
  3. Document the specific sediments associated with the dinosaur bone bed.

There will be a small crew (3-4) working at the dinosaur site for 10 days in mid-August.

The bones of at least five individual dinosaurs have been recovered from the site during three separate excavations over the past twenty years.  Three of the specimens are  articulated skeletons that were preserved in direct contact, such as a leg drapped over another dinosaur’s tail.

Each new excavation provides an ability to improve upon the collection and documentation methods.  New field techniques will be explored this year, including the use of PhotoModeler Scanner (software) to produce a highly accurate 3D digital model of dinosaur quarry, as well as an overall 3D digital model of the eroding cliff.

During the past week, field trials with a new (D7100) camera and the PhotoModeler software concluded successfully with the development of an innovative solution for spherical targets to be used in the field.  Small white spheres need to be installed in the dig quarry in order to provide the 3D software with reference points.

Ping pong balls with magnets

Ping Pong sphere on spike

Small magnets were inserted through a hole drilled into the ping-pong balls.  The hole is then covered by a small bit of white tape.

The ping-pong ball can now be quickly ‘installed’ (stuck with a magnet) on to a large metal spike that will be attached to the cliff.

The spheres can be easily installed to produce the 3D photogram and then quickly removed from the spikes as excavation work resumes.



Research Methods Updates

Field Mapping on Fundy Shore

Location, location, location – the three important factors of real estate …. are just as important in paleontology.  A fossil is nothing, when out of context.  A fossil has scientific and historical value only when the details of its original location are well documented.

Exposing bones in the quarry, 2004.
Exposing bones in the quarry, 2004.

the location and orientation of each bone is carefully documented when dinosaur bones are discovered during an excavation. Features of the sediment, like grain size or ripple marks, are important for interpreting fossil specimens. The sedimentary features provide a record of the ancient environment that preserved the fossils. Even the orientation of bones can provide evidence of the direction and strength of flowing water that moved the ancient skeleton.

Fossils are often deformed due to compression or tectonic movements, and this is especially true of the dinosaurs found in the Minas Basin.  Accurately documenting the orientation of fossils is necessary for interpreting the causes of fossil deformation.

Field mapping techniques are used to record the location of dinosaur bones and sediment features.

  • Traditional methods of field mapping with paper/pen field notes and hand drawn field maps remain important.  The information is recorded in grid quadrants, corresponding to grids installed at the excavation site.
  • Professional surveying equipment can also been used to establish highly accurate locations for significant specimens or to establish location of specific grid locations.

New digital field mapping methods are also being developed.  

High-resolution (24Mp) digital photographs and sophisticated photogrammetry software are used to create accurate 3D photographic models (Bennum et al. 2008). The highly accurate 3D meshes record the surfaces of bone and sediments as preserved in the cliff. These new techniques compliment traditional methods, especially in areas like the Fundy shore that have extremely complex geometries.

You can explore one of the first 3D models of the dinosaur cliff, created in 2011.

3D Model Demonstration


Stay tuned for more updates on the new digital field mapping techniques being developed while studying the Jurassic dinosaurs from the Bay of Fundy.