Eighty-million years ago, swarms of a marine reptile known as elasmosaur hunted in the oceans off British Columbia. Five years ago, British Columbians voted elasmosaur to be B.C.’s fossil emblem. Now, the wait is almost over.
On Wednesday (Oct. 4), the elasmosaur became one step closer to becoming part of B.C.’s symbols, when Tourism Minister Lana Popham tabled legislation to include the animal as B.C.’s fossil emblem.
“Adding a fossil emblem to our official provincial symbols is a great way to increase awareness about our natural, physical, geological provincial history,” Popham said as the bill received first reading.
Elasmosaur is a genus of plesiosaurs, which are large predatory reptiles that lived in the oceans. The animals generally had small heads attached to long necks, turtle-shaped bodies with paddle-like flippers and short tails.
In 2018, the provincial government ran a contest to determine B.C.’s fossil emblem and elasmosaur won by a wide margin.
In 2023, Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard had tabled a private member bill to adopt elasmosaur as the provincial fossil emblem.
While elasmosaur fossils have been found across western Canada and parts of the United States, Vancouver Island has had a long record of such discoveries.
Courtenay and District Museum on Vancouver Island is home to one such fossil, which has become somewhat of a celebrity on social media as museum staff have been built various celebrations around the fossil.