The Earthquake Dinosaurs (eDinos.ca) website was created two years ago to provide an opportunity to share information about dinosaur paleontology research work being done along the shores of Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy. The website has provided an opportunity to share information about new discoveries (like the mammal-like reptile tooth) and share updates about new field work to collect new dinosaur specimens.
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During the past two years the website has been used to explore new innovative online educational presentations, including YouTube tours of the field site, and high-resolution (GigaPan) presentations that allow the online community help find new fossils among sediment samples.
The dinosaur research in Nova Scotia is important for several reasons. The dinosaurs found in the Early Jurassic sandstones near Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, are the oldest dinosaur in Canada, and some of the oldest dinosaurs in North America. These prosauropod dinosaurs were herbivores (plant eaters) that survived the large mass extinction at the end of the Triassic Period, 3-4 meters in length, and were likely social animals traveling in small herds. From the research done since 1997, new Nova Scotia dinosaur specimens have been discovered in a rich bone-bed of dinosaurs that were killed and buried together at the same time. The location of a rich bone-bed of dinosaurs is very rare, and important for research studies. The scientific description of the bone bed specimens was the focus of my PhD research, and formal publication of the findings in peer-reviewed journals is ongoing.
The website is called Earthquake Dinosaurs because of the close association of the dinosaurs with large tectonic faults that cut through the sandstone and bone. When these dinosaurs walked across the landscape 200 million years ago, the supercontinent Pangaea was just starting to break apart, causing continent sized fractures in the earths crust. These fractures (faults) developed by monumental earthquakes, the scale of which are hard to imagine. The evidence of the earthquake faults are still visible in the rocks, and even the dinosaur bones are fractured by the faults.
Future plans for the eDinos.ca website include adding more detailed information about the geology of rift-basins and faulting, as well as the numerous dinosaur specimens collected during the past fifteen years and the people involved in supporting the research. Dinosaurs are not studied by one or two people, it takes a small community of dedicated museum staff, university students, and passionate public (you) to volunteer in the field and lab. As the work continues, there will also be new new educational resources for students and teachers added to the website.
Wishing a Happy New Year to all of the supporters of the Nova Scotia dinosaur projects.