Rascal Flats fossil site

Ben Kear:

The virtue of what occurs out here is basically the fossils are found out in the black soil plains and the local quarries. And it’s all this land that we’re more or less driving through now is the bottom of this ancient inland sea. So you’ve got people like tourists and property owners out looking around, and you find just about anything.

For example we’ve just had a couple of people come in and some tourists out looking through one of the gravel pits just outside town and they’ve turned up a very nice fossil fish. And these pits have produced marine reptile bones and all sorts of bits and pieces from the ancient environment. Hopefully we’ll be able to find something new, we’ll be able to get another droplet of information about what’s going on in this ancient ecosystem.

So this is the fossil fish which was found by the tourists just recently. And effectively what we’ve done in the process of excavating it is preserved it in this really fine shale layers which are very easy to lever up and work.

Effectively what’s happened is we’ve cut up around the block using a saw, taken all the surrounding rock out, and left the pedestal piece here, with the fish skeleton covered in the middle of it.

What we’ll do now is plaster over it creating a protective jacket, lever the whole block up, and take it back to the laboratory. From there we can very carefully remove the surrounding rock and expose the specimen, really seeing what’s preserved and what anatomy is there. What we can tell thus far is that we have a relatively complete fish specimen here, even down to preserved body outline and scales. It’s one of the fantastic specimens that you find in the cretaceous deposits around Richmond.