Summer 2003 Field Season

(Season 1 - Excavating British columbia's first dinosaurs)

For an account of the 2003 dinosaur excavation please visit the Tumbler Ridge Museum Website (under 2003 activities).

The first year of excavating British Columbia's first dinosaur bones was a very exciting one. The Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation had started 2003 with no excavation equipment and no facilities for storing, preparing and researching the anticipated material from the coming summer's planned excavation. By June of 2003, the T.R.M.F. had raised enough funds to meet and even exceed the funding objectives for the excavation.

Palaeontologist Rich McCrea (Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alberta) was chosen by the T.R.M.F. to lead the excavation. A second palaeontology graduate student, Lisa Buckley was invited to join as the excavation coordinator. A variety of volunteers were on hand to participate in the excavation.

The excavation began with the arrival of the palaeontologists and the new excavation equipment which all had to be flown down into a canyon where the bones were located. This was done expertly by Chetwynd Forest Industries who had donated a great deal of helicopter time to the excavation.

Once the equipment had been set up the excavation crew began removing the rock overlying the main bone layer, which was about 3/4 of a metre down. This proved to be a very difficult task due not only to the hardness of the rock (sandstone bound with a calcium-carbonate cement), but also because the crew encountered bone as they made there way through the overburden. It wasn't until the end of the allotted time for the 2003 excavation that the main bone layer was finally breached.

Over 75 bones (vertebrae, ribs, scutes, ossified tendons, limb elements and a tooth) were encountered during the course of the excavation, most of which were collected. The disarticulated remains of several dinosaurs (ornithopod, ankylosaur and theropod) were recovered. Non-dinosaurian bones were also excavated and collected, including those of crocodiles, turtles and even fish.

At the end of the excavation, all of the equipment and dinosaur bones was flown out of the canyon, again by Chetwynd Forest Industries. All of the fossils were taken to the newly established Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre (P.R.P.R.C.) for curation, and eventual preparation and study.

The results of the 2003 excavation were encouraging and It is expected that several more excavation seasons will follow.

Equipment (generator, air-compressors, etc.,..) waiting to be flown down to dinosaur excavation site



Once the equipment had been safely placed near the bone blocks, it was organized checked and assembled.

Excavation coordinator, Lisa Buckley looking over the generator and compressor assembly.


The dinosaur excavation site near Tumbler Ridge


A grid area on the excavation block showing a fossil log.


The excavation crew mapping position of bones before removal.


TRMF volunteer Larry White pedastaling a bone before jacketing and removal.


Larry White and Rich McCrea marking a grid



Collection of bones exposed at the "main" bone layer.

A turtle carapace with a plaster jacket before removal


Taking down the site took awhile on August, 2nd,  the last day of the 2003 excavation