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Blue Beach - Hantsport, Nova Scotia (Fall 2013)


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Taken from one of my latest posts: http://redleafz.blogspot.ca/2014/01/blue-beach-hantsport-nova-scotia-fall.html

I had meant to make a post on my blog on my last trip from last year to Blue Beach, in Nova Scotia but it had slipped my mind. I had brought my new Olympus SLR camera with me to capture snapshots and compare the quality with what I used to take photos with. A bit bulkier than the old gal, but I must admit that I won't miss her much. I can't recall when I went down there, and the data on the camera isn't accurate as I didn't bother setting the right time/date format.

On this trek you will notice there's a little of everything spread all over along the beach. South of the Jurassic and Triassic rocks that make up most of the Blomidon Peninsula lies the Carboniferous Horton Formation. These fossil bearing sedimentary rocks stretch from a little South of Hantsport to about Boot Island, North East of the city of Wolfville. The further one ventures South, the more you'll encounter rocks containing evaporites. These would be mostly part of the Carboniferous Windsor group, full of limestones and gypsum, such as in Cheverie (click to see other post on location).

Before heading down the path you get to see this

The walk through the woods is nice



The view as soon as you turn left walking down the path. These stratum have marine animals such as bivalves, brachiopods, and fragments of other animals. I've found some shale with arthropod traces in this area. I've mostly found them further North though.

Some nice traces

Rusophycus and cruziana from what I can tell

There is also a good amount of plant material found along the beach.

Fish scales

Tree section

Mechanical or actual tracks?


Section of the cliffs where some of the bigger traces were found, further North.





Rusophycus (largest I've seen here so far)


Last year was a great season and Blue Beach didn't disappoint. It's one of these places where it keeps attracting you. It will be one of my first beaches to hit when the ice starts to melt. The cliffs keep working out new material, so every time is a new adventure.


Till next time...

- Keenan

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When I said new camera.. its 'new' to me. =P An older E-500 Olympus. Works great! Can't wait to get it dirty hehehe.

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Very nice! Since you're finding athropod tracks and fossil plant material, keep an eye out for tetrapod tracks as well...in the Union Chapel Mine in Alabama, all of these are found together.


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Dang.. I was looking for pics and can't find the ones I wanted. I'll try to dig them up. If I can't find them, I'll just drive to the site and find some more. =)

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Oh...of course! I remember finding links to the Blue Beach fossil museum when I was looking up Attenosaurus footprints (which are also found in northern Alabama), so there should be some considerable overlap in trackway genera between the two. I didn't make the mental connection between the two until re-googling it.


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Nova Scotia (along with Alberta), as some of the strictest collecting laws in Canada.

As of now, the province of Nova Scotia considers all its fossils, minerals, and archaeological find as Crown Property. This mean that all fossils, no matter where they are found, belong to the Nova Scotia Government.

They also say that they don't want to take everyone’s fossils, or prevent anyone from looking for them. It is still legal to look for, and collect loose fossils. The government wants them reported, and if it's an important find, you would get recognition. Some people might say otherwise, but it all depends on who you talk to.

Crown land is public land. Provincial parks require special permits for the collecting of rocks and minerals.

UNESCO and other protected sites don't permit any collecting unless you have an Heritage Permit: http://novascotia.ca/cch/exploring/palaeontology/

So in short, any collecting in designated Protected sites such as Joggins or Provincial Park is 100% not happening, aka forbidden, unless you hold a permit. Outside and anywhere else in the Province, it is forbidden to remove any fossils 'in situ', aka removing them from the cliffs yourself, without a permit. As of loose fossils anywhere outside protected zones/sites, depending on who you talk to (I've talked to several people and they all gave me a different answer), its really your call.

So you see, its a touchy subject. Some geos will say its 100% forbidden to remove them in any context, some other geos will tell you otherwise. In truth, I think personally that some geo's just want to keep everything for themselves and hide behind the 'law' as an excuse. You'll get that anywhere you go. Some other geos push to get people interested in the field of palaeontology and encourage the inclusion of the public in any related activities. There's also the fact that, if a loose fossil that is highly at risk of being lost forever at the next high tide isn't collected, what would we do? Any geologists/paleontologists that think that you should still not collect loose specimens and let it be lost forever is doing a disservice by letting important tidbits of our past be lost. And that, I don't do well with.

- Keenan

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Here's a contradictory example for those in the Province that think that people shouldn't collect loose fossils. This one would have been lost:

Dog stumbles upon 300 million-year-old fossil

By Cassie Williams, CBC News Posted: Aug 16, 2012 3:27 PM AT Last Updated: Aug 28, 2012 2:28 PM AT


The fossil comes from a branch of reptiles described as mammal-like as they are thought to be the ancient ancestors of modern mammal species. (Nova Scotia Museum)

A family and their dog named Kitty have stumbled upon one of the most significant fossil finds ever in Nova Scotia.


Previously, scientists had discovered fossilized footprints in Colchester County and a few scattered bones on P.E.I., but Superstar is the most complete specimen to date. (Nova Scotia Museum)

The reptile fossil, affectionately nicknamed "Superstar," is the first of its kind to be found in the province.

While out walking along Nova Scotia's fossil-rich Northumberland shore, Patrick Keating, his family, and their dog, Kitty, found a fossilized rib cage, backbone and partial sail.

When they went back to the same area a week later, they found the creature's fossilized skull.

"We really had no idea how significant this was," said Keating. "My brother Peter and his kids took the pieces to the Nova Scotia Museum and when we learned what they were, we were truly amazed and so glad we brought them in."


The Keating family and their dog, Kitty, found the one-of-a-kind fossil. (CBC)

Researchers estimate the reptile lived between 290 and 305 million years ago, during the Carboniferous Period or early Permian Period.

Based on fossil evidence, researchers believe Superstar was a juvenile, measuring about one metre long, weighing in at about 15 kilograms.

Paleontologists and other staff from the Museum of Natural History, the Fundy Geological Museum and the Joggins Fossil Institute are working together to unravel the mystery.

"A new window into our ancient world has just opened," said Deborah Skilliter, curator of geology for the Nova Scotia Museum. "This is just the beginning of the story as we undertake the task of determining exactly what type of sail-back reptile Superstar is, where, and how, it lived and died."

Previously, scientists had discovered fossilized footprints in Colchester County and a few scattered bones on P.E.I., but Superstar is the most complete specimen to date.

Skilliter and other researchers are very excited.

"This is one of the most significant fossils that's come out of the province in recent history," she said.

"This was a land creature. Land creatures don't get preserved as easily as water creatures, aquatic things — so it's rare that we get a land animal ...150 years of paleontological research in the province and not a single bone, and here we get almost the whole darn thing."

The fossil comes from a branch of reptiles described as mammal-like as they are thought to be the ancient ancestors of modern mammal species.


Researchers believe Superstar was a juvenile, measuring about one metre long, weighing about 15 kilograms. (CBC)

The original find has led to the discovery of a dragonfly wing fossil at the same site, one of five discovered in Nova Scotia.

"This is a great day for Nova Scotians and the world," said Leonard Preyra, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage in a statement.

"These fossils of extinct animals connect us to our past by helping to tell the story of Nova Scotia's and the earth's history. This enriches our lives today and gives us insight for the future."

Preyra commended the family for doing the right thing by bringing the fossils to the attention of the museum.

"This is the perfect example of why the Special Places Protection Act is in place," he said. "The act allows fossils to be properly researched, displayed and enjoyed by thousands of people for years to come."

The Special Places Protection Act protects important archaeological, historical and paleontological sites and remains, including those underwater.

The fossil will be on display at the Museum of Natural History in Halifax from Aug. 18 to Sept. 3.

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The laws were put in place around 1980. So most likely if you see Nova Scotia fossils on the market, there is a chance that they might have been collected prior 1980.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Keenan, it is not just protected places in the province. all fossils are protected regardless of the sites designation. you need a permit and no private collecting.

Minerals are a different story however, they fall into DNR jurasdiction. So long as you are not on someone claim and have a prospectors license it is ok. amateur collecting is usually ok though.

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So no collecting common things like loose brachiopods eroded from the outcrop? Things no museum would care to curate and store have to be left to erode to dust?

Where will future paleontologists come from? Most professionals I have known developed their passion starting from personal collecting as children. Somehow looking at pictures in a book, or even displays on sporadic visits to a museum, don't really compete with a real fossil in your hand when it comes to exciting the interest that inspires kids to want to grow up to be a paleontologist.

I was actually born in Nova Scotia, though my family moved from there when I was just 3. Since I started collecting fossils I have accumulated a private collection of a couple of thousand species from every Canadian province except Alberta, Nova Scotia, PEI, and Newfoundland, from most of the US states, and from several places in Europe, almost all self collected. This interest in paleontology led directly to my career as a biology professor. I have also contributed many specimens to the National Museum in Ottawa, and to the Geological Survey of Canada collections. My first publication, as a second year undergraduate student, was on a Pleistocene fish from Ontario. I am currently working on papers on Ordovician cephalopods and corals from Ontario.

It bothers me that the province of my birth would consider my lifelong interest in paleontology to be a criminal activity.


Edited by FossilDAWG
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