Late Cretaceous Marine Fauna and Paleoenvironment at Lac des Bois, NT

Regions: Sahtu Settlement Area

Tags: physical sciences, fossils, paleontology, biological evolution

Principal Investigator: Cumbaa, Stephen L (4)
Licence Number: 14714
Organization: Canadian Museum of Nature
Licensed Year(s): 2010 2008 1997 1995
Issued: May 11, 2010
Project Team: Stephen L. Cumbaa (co-principal investigator, Canadian Museum of Nature), Richard G. Day (research assistance, logistics, Canadian Museum of Nature), Alison M. Murray (co-principal investigator, University of Alberta), Robert Holmes (research, fossil vertebrates, CMN, UA - Research Associate), (?) Christopher Fielitz (researcher, fossil fish, Emory & Henry University)

Objective(s): To learn more about the environment of this ancient seaway, and why it was a "hot spot" for fish evolution. The Western Interior Seaway covered the middle of North America, from the NWT to the Gulf of Mexico.

Project Description: To discover fossil bones and teeth of new species of ancient fishes, and remains of other animals that shared the shallow waters of the Western Interior Seaway with them. This seaway covered the middle of North America, from the NWT to the Gulf of Mexico. The researchers are trying to learn more about the environment of this ancient seaway, and why it was a "hot spot" for fish evolution.

The researchers will hike along the shore, looking at the exposed bedrock, especially along the cliff facing the lake. The tools are very basic hand tools – rock hammers and chisels, and will be used them to try to break apart sections of rock where fossilized bones of fish are seen. The researchers would then take samples for study and further preparation in the laboratory at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, and at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Samples are normally from about one-half kilogram to four or five kilograms in weight. The investigator will use hand-held GPS units to record the location of samples, and take notes and photographs as additional records. The only mechanical tool that will be used is a gasoline-powered rock saw, which will be used if rocks are too big to break up with a hammer and chisel. There were about 50 or 60 rocks collected in the 1960s, weighing in total about 150 kg., so in this trip the researchers hope to find as many fossils as the geologists and paleontologists did then.

The research locality is remote from any community, but closest to Colville Lake. The researchers will keep the community informed of plans and results, and plan to produce a large color poster for the community which will have maps, photos, and information on the fossil fish that are found, and their importance. The investigator hopes to have video coverage of work so that copies can be made available.

The researcher will make a poster (approx. 4 ft. X 2.5 ft.) with photographic coverage and a plain language summary of research and discoveries for the people of Colville Lake, and could make other copies available if there is interest. A PowerPoint presentation of the above can also be made, which could be viewed on any computer with Microsoft PowerPoint. That can be distributed as widely as there is interest. Copies of any scientific publications resulting from the research will be sent to ARI and to interested communities. Copies of the 2008 publication on the fossils collected at Lac des Bois in the 1960s have already been distributed to the communities. CBC radio has often covered this type of research in the NWT, and the investigator will contact them to let them know of the plans, and later, the results.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 21, 2010 to August 8, 2010.