Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Exploring the tetrapod world of Nova Scotia

Yesterday members of the TW:eed Team returned from a successful fieldtrip to Nova Scotia, Canada. Our aim was to investigate the environment of tetrapod sites that are the same age as those in Scotland. Some of the important tetrapod bone collection from the site of Blue Beach was published by project partner Jason Andersonand TW:eed Team last year. Jason has also done a PalaeoCast episode about the finds. And there was another report in the paper CBC News.

Our first stop was the Blue Beach Fossil Museum which houses thousands of fossil specimens from the locality. If you are in the area do pop in to have a look or arrange a guided tour of the beach. Local collector and expert Chris Mansky and sedimentologist Martin Gibling from Dalhousie University then walked us through some of the key parts of the succession.

Tim, Sarah, Carys and Dave at the Blue Beach Fossil Museum.
A selection of fossils and rocks outside the Blue Beach Fossil Museum: mostly tree casts, wave ripples and desiccation cracks.
The sediments at Blue Beach were really great to study because they were very well exposed and not covered in seaweed or grass. Tetrapod trackways and burrows were visible on the surface of some beds and structures such as ripples and desiccation cracks were easy to see. I was pleased to find some dolostones similar to those in Scotland and plenty of ostracods and fish scales within fine-grained siltstone rocks. A real treat was that we were observed working by a pair of bald eagles!
The Nova Scotia team, from left to right: Sarah Davies, Chris Mansky, Martin Gibling, David Millward, Tim Kearsey and myself
A bald eagle watching us working below
Look at those cliffs! Some of the fantastic rock exposures at Blue Beach
We spent a few days recording the sediments of the Horton Bluff Formation and we also went to look at the younger Cheverie Formation. This unit contained some thick palaeosol sequences that were of much interest to our palaesols expert Tim Kearsey!
Tim and Dave studying a palaeosol sequence in the Cheverie Formation
Recording ancient trees preserved in sandstone in the Cheverie Formation
Overall the sections were quite different to those in Scotland and represent a different environment, but some elements (palaeosols and dolostones) were very similar. With the help of our colleagues Martin Gibling and others we hope to publish our findings from this trip and contribute to our knowledge of the ancient tetrapod world.

Until next time

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