A team of Canadian paleontologists from the University of Alberta managed to find among the sediments the so-called North Saskatchewan River, near the city of Edmonton, one of the oldest sturgeon fossils ever found.
The experts themselves brought this news through an article published in one of the most prestigious paleontological journals, the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, in which they described the individual stages of the discovery.
Two hikers were walking near the North Saskatchewan River last February Capilano Park, when they suddenly came across a sturgeon skull. It surfaced just above the surface and was initially mistaken for a fragment of dinosaur skin. These people then contacted a paleontologist Phil Currie who immediately asked them not to mine the find: it was too risky for a group of non-experts to begin excavating the fossil near the river.
When Curie arrived at the area where the tourists were waiting for him, he noticed that the find belonged to an ancient fish and that it was most likely an archaic form of sturgeon, now known to be an endangered species. of caviar.
The expert handed the fossil over to the paleontologist Alison Murray who confirmed the approximate identification of his colleague and also estimated that the living specimen must have been about two meters long and that the find was actually part of the animal’s skull: «This animal lived 72 million years ago – he noted – at a time when dinosaurs were still present in Canada and they fished for sturgeon in the great riverbeds.”
Together with her team, Murray named the new species Boreiosturion labyrinthicus. This discovery could fill a large spatial and temporal gap in what we knew about sturgeon distribution during the Late Cretaceous. Until now, scientists knew that sturgeon-like species existed in the southern regions of southern Alberta, Montana and North Dakota, while in other northern locations, such as those in Alaska or the Peace River, they appeared a little later. . Thus, the discovery of a sturgeon fossil sheds light on the arrival of these animals in Canada and allows us to better understand the evolution of the entire group.
The find is also considered one of the oldest chondrosteia cartilaginous fish, which, however, presents a certain ossification, found today especially in areas rich in fresh water.
Now that it has been classified, named, and cataloged, the skull will enter the museum – the University of Alberta’s Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory, which contains more than 50,000 fossil vertebrates have been found on Canadian territory.