Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ponteix, Sask: Beware — Massive Sea Reptile

Mo, the Elasmosaur Plesiosaur from Ponteix, SK - photo by Shelley Banks
MO, the Elasmosaur Plesiosaur from Ponteix, Saskatchewan © SB

Ponteix, Saskatchewan, Canada:  This is dinosaur country. When the earth was younger, huge animals roamed (and swam across) what are now Saskatchewan's plains. They left rich deposits of fossils, which continue to be explored.

An Elasmosaurus — a kind of Plesiosaur, aka massive sea reptile from the Cretaceous period some 70 million years ago — was found near Ponteix in southwestern Saskatchewan almost 20 years ago. The find is commemorated by a replica at the junction of Highway 13 and the village access road.

The skull and flipper bones of the fossil were discovered in 1992; the next year, the rest of the body was found — except for the tail, which was dug up a year later. Overall, estimates say Mo was about 15 metres long. (His replica, made of iron bars and sheet metal, and covered with five cubic metres of concrete, is said to be closer to half that size — although from teeth to tail to me, I'd believe it was full size.)

Information sign about Mo, the Ponteix plesiosaur - photo by Shelley Banks
All about MO  © SB 
The sign beside the replica of this Plesiosaur gives some of the history:

"MO" the Ponteix Plesiosaur (Elasmosaur) / a sea reptile having lived 70 to 75 million years ago / reaching a length of 38 feet  / "MO" was originally found 6 km NE of Ponteix by Bob St. Cyr / Henri Liboiron confirmed the location / and with fellow paleontologist / Tim Tokaryk, quarried the site. / This reproduction project of the original Plesiosaur / site was initiated by Roland (Dick) Lemieux, / the architect is Larry Piché / and sponsor of the project is the / Ponteix Lions Club.

Virtual Museum Canada explains that St. Cyr was a high school student at the time, while Liboiron had a long history of research and excavations around the community.

More of Liboiron's finds are in the local Ponteix Museum — which (I am now serving notice to my partner in explorations) I plan to visit sometime soon.

Mo, the Ponteix SK Elasmosaur Plesiosaur - photomontage by Shelley Banks
MO, the Ponteix Elasmosaur Plesiosaur
What a wonderful world with massive, four-flippered 
swimming reptiles -- with such spiky teeth!    © SB 

And yes, for the record, I do know that dinosaurs lived on land, and that Mo and Big Bert, the Carrot River Croc at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (Terminonaris robusta) are therefore not dinosaurs.... But dinosaurs have also been discovered in Saskatchewan... 

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