Pat Trask – “Dinosaurs of Vancouver Island”
by Nancy Pezel, 7 June 2018.
Pat’s interest in marine dinosaurs was sparked when his brother Mike (and 12 year-old daughter Heather) discovered a near complete skeleton of an 80 million year old long-necked plesiosaur. It’s called Elasmosaurus.
The new specimen made a big splash in scientific circles. Just as it no doubt did in real life!
Pat was hired by the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontological Centre some 26 years ago as an interpreter of palaeontology and geology. He’s now Curator of Natural History there.
During his presentation, Pat described how Vancouver island (including Powell River) was born volcanically underwater about 350-400 million years ago out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean possibly up to 15 degrees below the equator. Since that time the island has moved northward on the Pacific Plate to crash into North America and create the topography that we see today. A vast inland sea split North America for thousands of years depositing layers of marine sediments.
A fossil bed from the late Cretaceous period that extends from Campbell River to Duncan contains the remains of giant marine reptiles, like the elasmosaur, and other creatures that swam the seas around Vancouver Island. Even on Texada Island, 80 million year old sea shells that look like they were washed ashore yesterday have been found 300 m above the current tideline.
Pat’s enthusiasm for his subject was contagious and those members going to Courtenay on the field trip the following Saturday were looking forward to making their own dinosaur discoveries!
P.S: You can learn more about the 1988 elasmosaurus discovery here