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A nearly complete elasmosaur from the Late Cretaceous Bearpaw Formation of Alberta, Canada
SVPCA Conference
Platform presentation (20 minutes)
*Donald M Henderson
In May 2007 the partial remains of a large marine reptile were uncovered by excavating equipment at the open pit ammolite mine operated by Korite International approximately 20km south of Lethbridge in southeastern Alberta. This mine is situated in sediments that were deposited in the short-lived, epeiric Bearpaw Sea that covered much of west-central North America in the Late Cretaceous (Tsujita and Westermann, 1998). For three weeks in June of 2007 a crew of 6 from the Tyrrell Museum uncovered and removed the nearly complete remains of an 8m long elasmosaur. The specimen is located in a weakly bedded black shale which yields abundant ammonites of the genus Placenticeras sp. at particular horizons (Tsujita and Westermann, 1998). The skeleton lies approximately 2m below a 20cm thick altered volcanic ash layer that forms a unique marker bed in the mine, and should provide a minimum radiometric age for the specimen. At present the entire axial skeleton, pelvic and pectoral girdles, and the proximal halves of all the limbs, and a large quantity of gastroliths have been recovered. The anterior-most cervicals have been identified, but there is no indication of a skull as yet. A complete, mid-section cervical vertebrae has an overall height of 30cm and a centrum length of 14cm. The largest gastrolith seen so far has a diameter of 15cm, but stones as small as 2cm are also present. Two teeth of the shark genus Squalicorax sp. have been recovered in association with the bones, but no tooth-marked bone has been observed so far.
London 2020