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Comox Valley fossil one step closer to becoming provincial symbol

The Comox Valley’s elasmosaur is one step closer to becoming the provincial fossil with new legislation introduced.

Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard tabled a private members bill to adopt the prehistoric beast as the province’s fossil. The first elasmosaur was found in November 1988 by Mike Trask and his daughter Heather in the Puntledge River, marking the first fossil of its kind found west of the Canadian Rockies.

It is a large marine reptile that dates to the Cretaceous period, around 80 million years ago. It can be seen on display at the Courtenay Museum, along with another elasmosaur found in 2020.

Leonard says she is “thrilled” to be taking steps towards recognizing the fossil’s importance in the province. It was proposed as one of seven different fossil options, and public input saw a 45 per cent vote for the elasmosaur in 2018.

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Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Centre executive director Deborah Griffiths says the fossil has been an inspiration for young people and a mark of the area’s history.

“The elasmosaur has inspired young fossil enthusiasts in the Comox Valley for decades, and we are thrilled that it will now be showcased across B.C. for generations to come,” said Griffiths.

“The fossil is a symbol of the remarkable ancient history of the province, while encouraging people to pursue and support STEAM education.”

The bill has passed the first reading stage, but it must go through more stages before vote and royal assent before becoming law.

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