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Mystery Fossils Found In Central Alberta Badlands. Please Help ID.


Backcountryhiker

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Backcountryhiker

Hello everyone, first time poster here. While enjoying a day hike through the badlands of central Alberta near the Red Deer river (North of Drumheller) my girlfriend & I came across multiple oval shaped fossils (I hope) that look quite unusual. As you can see all of them are very similar in shape & size. They all seem to have what appear to be two lobes on each side & crease down the center.  The one on the far right is quite shiny & has a gloss to it almost. The sizes range from 4.5cm x 2.5cm to 5.5cm x 3.5cm. I was hoping to get some help to ID these strange looking objects as are quite odd & I'm very curious/excited to learn more about these bulbous little things. 

 

I believe where we were hiking was in the Scollard formation if that helps. 

 

Thank you in advance for your help!

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Edited by Backcountryhiker
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GeschWhat

Welcome to the forum! Do any of these feel sticky if you touch them with wet fingers? Also, could you post side views, please? 

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Backcountryhiker

Here are a few more photos (side view & the black shiny one). Yes they are sticky when touched with wet hands with the exception of the black one which has a smooth glossy almost polished feel. 

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I think these are steinkerns of freshwater mussels, Unionidae. I've seen similar ones in the Dinosaur Park Formation. I remember reading somewhere that they're actually of the same genus that you'll find in Western Canadian lakes and rivers today, but don't take my word for it.

Edited by Norki
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Thomas.Dodson
16 minutes ago, Norki said:

I think these are steinkerns of freshwater mussels, Unionidae. I've seen similar ones in the Dinosaur Park Formation. I remember reading somewhere that they're actually of the same genus that you'll find in Western Canadian lakes and rivers today, but don't take my word for it.

I agree these are bivalve steinkerns and Unionids would be a reasonable assumption for freshwater deposits. There are many genera of Unionids and it is true that many extant genera date back to cretaceous strata. Funny enough I've done modern Unionid research but have scarce experience with fossils of them.

 

I can't help with the ID if it is even possible to ID from these steinkerns but maybe this paper will be a place to start. Nothing is listed from the Scollard Formation in it but you might find some that occur in equivalent or underlying/overlying strata. I'm not familiar with these formations offhand. Note that your fossils appear to missing portions of the margin and are mostly preservations of the umbo and hinge line. I can't quite tell what extent is missing from these pictures.

 

Unionidae from the Cretaceous and Tertiary of Alberta and Montana (JSTOR Link)

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