In 1996, as hype was escalating for a much-anticipated Jurassic Park sequel, a group of Victorians, already entrenched in a world rife with dinosaurs, fossils and extinct species, opened its doors to the public.
The Victoria Palaeontology Society hosts its 16th annual Fossil Fair this weekend, giving inquisitive minds an opportunity to learn about the creatures that inhabited our planet tens of millions of years ago.
“It’s very, very exciting. Palaeontology is the whole evolution of life on this planet, and it’s the only record we have,” said Tom Cockburn, vice-chair of the society.
And while the great dinosaurs you see on film weren’t all that common in this part of Canada, Cockburn and his colleagues at the society have discovered new fossilized specimens right in our own backyard.
“The people of the palaeontology society have made a number of discoveries … including a number of new species that have been named,” Cockburn said. “And there’s a number of things that haven’t been reported from the Sooke Formation – there are new species probably in there … mostly snails and bivalves.”
These sorts of fossils will be on display at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary during this weekend’s fair.
Most fossilized discoveries made by society members wind up stored at the discoverer’s home for safekeeping. Anything deemed scientifically important is donated to the Royal B.C. Museum.
Also on display for the public to touch this weekend is the large femur of a Hadrosaur, a duck-billed dinosaur that roamed Alberta during the Cretaceous period (upwards of 136 million years ago).
The Fossil Fair, which mainly features Vancouver Island and B.C. fossils, is great for all ages, Cockburn said. “There’s always something a little bit different, something new to see.” New – even if it is millions of years old.
The fair runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday (March 24 and 25), at 3873 Swan Lake Rd.
Admission is by donation.
For more information on the Victoria Palaeontology Society, visit vicpalaeo.org.