Extremely rare tyrannosaur track discovered by student, her father

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With only 14 prior discoveries, tyrannosaur tracks are one of the rarest in the paleontology world and having discovered the fifteenth such track, a student of geology at University of British Columbia and her father are definitely elated.

Carian Helm was the one who spotted it first while returning with her father from a repair work they carried out on a hiking trial. Helm and her father discovered the tracks on August 30 some 10-kilometers away from Tumbler Ridge.

Helm said that after she spotted the tracks, they took a detour to have a look at the tracks which they believed were possibly from a dinosaur. The first rock Helm saw contained a huge track-shape on it with three toes. The track measures 59 cm, but experts estimate it was even bigger as the tip and claw of the longest toe has eroded away.

Soon after she pointed out this huge footprint to her dad, they talked to Rich McCrea, a Paleontologists, telling him about the find.

Rich McCrea and Lisa Buckley, with the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre (PRPRC) in Tumbler Ridge, travelled to the track site after the discovery was made, and confirmed that the footprint had indeed been made by a tyrannosaur and the dinosaur that made the print was likely similar to the Albertasaurus.

“It can sometimes be a challenge to identify the maker of a single print, especially one that has been weathered by the elements,” said McCrea.

“Even with the tips of the digits (the claw impressions) eroded away, the footprint found by Carina Helm still possesses characteristics that make it identifiable as the product of a meat-eating (theropod) dinosaur. In addition to the morphological features of the footprint, which bears great similarity to the ones discovered in the fall of 2011 by Mr. Aaron Fredlund (subsequently named Bellatoripes fredlundi), the size of the print and the age of the rocks it was found in provide further evidence that the track-maker was a tyrannosauroid.”

McCrea discovered BC’s first Tyrannosaur tooth in the same region back in 2004.

President of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation Jim Kincaid thanked Helm for her “sharp eyes and enthusiasm,” in helping find the track.

Now, the decision to be made is to either leave the track where it is as a roadside attraction, or haul it to the Museum. They feel the track will get vandalized left out in the open, but also that it will be difficult to get it to the Museum as the slab containing the track is extremely heavy.