International fossil experts uncover Qualicum Beach

Qualicum Beach museum fossils spark excitement on the world stage

Graham Beard shows off one of the  ammonite fossils on display at the Qualicum Beach Museum.

Graham Beard shows off one of the ammonite fossils on display at the Qualicum Beach Museum.

Museum regulars and local fossil fans have claimed for some time that the collection of fossils at the Qualicum Beach facility are world-class, and now they have international experts agreeing.

“We just had the paleontological division of the Geological Survey of Canada here and they were from all over the world — France, Iran, Switzerland, Chile, Russia and Japan,” said fossil collector Graham Beard. “They were participating in the 21st Canadian Paleontology Conference at the University of British Columbia and they were taking a field trip to Vancouver Island.”

The scientists, Beard added, were impressed and surprised by the fossils on display at the Qualicum Beach museum.

“Many of them were unaware of the paleontological treasures we have in the local area and were especially impressed with our museum,” Beard said. “Many important scientific papers will be initiated as a result of this visit and many of the paleontologists said they would be back.”

Of particular interest, he said, was a humble fossil that doesn’t look like much but is one of Beard’s personal favorites.

“Two worms were feeding and once they feed they puke it back up and it forms long, ropy strands,” he said. “I had no idea how much information they can gain from it about temperature and climatic conditions. They were amazed at this one fossil.”

As well, he said, some of the ammonites proved to be of interest.

“This chap from Russia studies isotopes found in the shells of ammonites and he can glean all sorts of information from them,” Beard said.

“I gave him some specimens to take back to Russia with him. He was thrilled. As well, a paleobotanist from the University of Alberta wants to study the fossil flowers we have.

“There was all kinds of interest generated. They had no idea we had such a world-class museum right here in Qualicum Beach.”