Friday, July 18, 2014

Busy Times at the CFDC

The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre staff has been quite busy with tours, meetings and planning lately!

Dig Tour season is in full swing and our field techs are eager to get out into the field! A typical dig tour will begin with a VIP tour of our museum and collection room, and then it's out to the field! Guests will be taken to one of our private dig sites where they will hunt for fossils, clean up the fossil bed, and enjoy the sun in the beautiful Manitoba escarpment. There is also the chance to become the weekly Paleostar! Paleostar is a recognition of outstanding work done by visitors in the field. It typically is awarded when a customer finds an impressive fossil, such as a shark tooth, fish vertebra or maybe even some pieces of mosasaur! Paleostar can be awarded to a single person or even an entire family! If you're interested in booking a tour click this link for more information.

We've had some very important visitors at the CFDC this past week, starting off with the Manitoba Geological Survey's Jim Bamburak. Jim came out this week to do a presentation on the geological layers of the Pembina Valley. He then took the field staff on a field trip throughout the escarpment to get an up close and personal look at the different layers. It was a great opportunity to learn about the Pembina Valley, as well as broadening our geological understanding.

Dr. Kevin Campbell, a professor at the University of Manitoba and a contributor and member of the CFDC generously donated a tuft of real 43,000 year old woolly mammoth hair! This hair comes from a Siberian mammoth that was found this past year, and it had most of its skin and hair still intact! We are excited to add this new fossil to our display of mammoth tusk and blood by the end of summer.

Real mammoth hair!
We also had the privilege of having Ron Lemieux and Colin Ferguson join us for an afternoon of digging for fossils! Ron is the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection for Manitoba, and Colin is the CEO for Travel Manitoba. They and their families got a chance to enter the field for a dig tour, as well as a VIP Tour. It was a good time had by all and we hope they visit again in the future.

Everyone checking out the dig site!
Lastly, CFDC staff have been preparing the museum for Bruce's Birthday! Bruce is turning the ripe old age of 80 000 040 years old, and to celebrate, we're throwing him a huge party. For regular admission prices, you and your family can enjoy a full day of activities and games right here at the museum! Free cake and other party refreshments will be served at noon, so be sure to stop in for that. We hope to see you here next Saturday, the 26th!

Paige Ready
Museum Assistant

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Field Tech

Field techs; we are the ones who may give you a tour, work the booth at a festival or actually dig up fossils in the field. But what exactly do we do at a typical day at the museum? You're about to find out!

A field tech's day begins right here at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre. We start our day at 9 am, and we prep the museum for any visitors that may come that day. This includes cleaning bathrooms, cleaning the glass in the displays cases, and planning any programming for tours if they are booked. After all the cleaning is done, we are given time to work on upcoming projects. Currently, staff is working hard to put together Bruce's Birthday on July 26! This event will include many activities, crafts and snacks, and must be coordinated and ran by the museum staff. There are other projects to work on as well, such as creating new displays, cataloguing in our collection room, or (in my case) updating the latest blog.

Around noon, we will pack up and head out to the field to do some digging! The past few weeks, the field techs have been working on creating a new pathway at one of our dig sites. We are doing this so we can expand the fossil bed, and search for more fossils! To accomplish this, the field techs have been shovelling and pick axing for days. It is definitely a good work out! After this is over, we begin work on uncovering the fossils at the site. This means brushing and picking away in the hot sun for hours at a time. It's hard work, but so rewarding!

Every day is different for a CFDC field tech. One day we may be giving a tour to a family, and the next we could be face painting at a festival. Every day brings something new and exciting and that's why I enjoy my job as a field tech so much.

Paige Ready
Museum Assistant

Field Techs working to make a pathway at the site
Aaron Kilmury, King of the Dirt Pile. 

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Theory vs Scientific Theory

Often at the CFDC, we get a lot of questions regarding what exactly a "theory" is. It appears that there is a lot of misunderstanding, and misinformation about this topic, so this post is going to address just that; the incorrect use of a word.

A theory and a scientific theory are two different things. A theory (defined by is "A supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained". In other words, a theory is a thought or an idea, surrounding something or someone. An example of this would be this theory about "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (seriously, it's pretty cool!). 

Now to define scientific theory. Defined by, "A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing". Basically, scientific theory is a way of explaining something in science that is widely accepted as fact due to the research, testing and data backing it up. An example of a widely accepted scientific theory is gravity. 

"When used in non-scientific context, the word 'theory' implies that something is unproven or speculative" ( The misuse of the word creates a fair amount of confusion for those who are not familiar with it. And this is exactly the problem we at the CFDC are trying to address. 

Another question that is asked at the CFDC is what exactly constitutes "scientific testing". It is actually called the Scientific Method and is fairly simple to understand and accomplish. The scientific method is "A method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses"( Scientific method can be broken down to this; form a hypotheses, and test it out. If it works, test it again, if it doesn't, refine your hypotheses and repeat the steps.

It is through this process that we pass the simple theory, and arrive at the scientific theory. 

Click here for more misused words in science and over here to learn more about the scientific theory! 

Make sure to visit the CFDC to #discoverfossils

Paige Ready
Museum Assistant

Monday, June 30, 2014

What's New at the CFDC?

Even if you have visited before, it's always worth checking out what's new at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre. We've recently added a new exhibit to our collection, showcasing some of our more recent finds that have been kicking around in our collection room! In this display you can catch a glimpse of some Mosasaur vertebrae and ribs. There's also a chance to get a close look at some leg bones of a bird called Hesperornis, a flightless bird that swam with the marine reptiles in the Cretaceous era. There's also some Xiphactinus and Enchodus teeth, two fish that swam in the Western Interior Seaway. And last but definitely not least, there is a chunk of a squid pen, the only part of the squid to fossilize.

Aaron Kilmury, one of our field techs, has been hard at work on an extinction display that is sure to knock your socks off! This display has been revamped from an older display that had since been retired. Aaron has breathed new life into it, and we're hoping it will be on display for the public in July!

Here at the museum, we often get asked if we are still finding fossils in this area, and the answer is a strong yes! Field techs and volunteers alike have been hard at work on uncovering more mosasaur! This has been a great site for the CFDC, as it was found at the same site as our Xiphactinus from 2010. It always amazes me what can be found here in the Pembina Valley, right under our feet!

As usual, among the larger finds we still find several small fossils and micro-fossils at our dig sites. Typically we find remainders of fish vertebrae, or shell imprints left in the shale. This year, our goals are to find more shark teeth, and to find a more complete Hesperornis fossil! Fingers crossed that this is the year!

We've also got some big events coming up so get your calenders ready!

Kicking off the summer, you can find the CFDC crew at the Morden Beach Blast on July 1st! There'll be some information regarding Dino Day Camp there, as well as some face painting for the kids! Hope to see you there!

Next up is Bruce the Mosasaur's birthday party on July 26! Bruce is turning the ripe old age of 80 000 040 years old and to celebrate, the CFDC is throwing him a celebration. With regular admission to the museum, (Click here to view admissions) guests will have a chance to enjoy some birthday cake, as well as take advantage of the many activities staff will be running during the day.

Later in August is the CFDC's second annual Shark Week! Stop in to the museum to learn more about the ancient creatures that swam in Cretaceous Manitoba, and enjoy some of the activities that will be offered as well. If you have some kids who just can't get enough of sharks, sign them up for our Dino Day Camp version of Shark Week! Kids will have a chance to learn about sharks and have fun at the same time! Spots are limited so book early!

Hoping to see you soon!

Paige Ready
Museum Assistant

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Welcome To Summer Staff!

There are some new and familiar faces among the summer staff this season!

Returning to work as our field technicians are Eric Blaich and Aaron Kilmury. Each with a year of Field Tech experience under their belts, they have been a massive help in training new staff and volunteers and giving insight into new displays and exhibits.

New to the field tech team are Candace Le Sage and myself, Paige Ready. Candace is in her third year of studies in Geology and Anthropology at University of Manitoba. She feels that working at the museum is right up her alley, and will help her in her future career of archaeology.

I (Paige Ready) have just wrapped up my first year of Concurrent Education at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Although this job is a little outside my field of expertise, I've thoroughly enjoyed it so far, and I look forward to the next couple months.

Though he may be a familiar face, Matt Duda is new to the position of Museum Curator. Having worked at the CFDC as a field tech for 5 years, he was the best candidate for the position. Although its had its challenges, he feels that he has never been happier in a job.

We also have 2 Youth Program Coordinators joining us for the summer, one returning and one new face! Rebecca Pedneault is enjoying her second year with the CFDC, and is currently entering her 4th year of Bachelor of Science with a focus on botany at the University of Winnipeg. She's looking forward to the summer, and can't wait to work with the kids!

Maddy Jamieson is new to the position of Youth Coordinator, but feels right at home with it! She is heading back to Lakehead University for her second year, and feels that the summer job with the museum will help her with her future career as an elementary school teacher.

We also have several volunteers joining us, some returning and some who are new this season. These volunteers really are jacks of all trades and help the museum staff with everything. From cleaning displays, to actually going out into the field, they really can (and will) do it all!

All of these different faces can give you plenty of information and service at the CFDC, so feel free to stop by anytime this summer (between 10 and 5 of course)! And if you or your family is interested in volunteering, feel free to click this link for more information!

Hoping to see you soon!
Paige Ready
Museum Assistant

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

We're Back Baby!

After almost a year, the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre Blog is back! There has been lots happening at the CFDC, with lots of new exhibits, faces and activities to look forward to!

May and June have been busy months for our field technicians, with running school tours almost every day! For the returning staff, it was great to get back into the routine at the museum. For the staff that was new to the CFDC this summer, it was a challenge to learn all about the exhibits in the museum, and it has been a pleasure to share that information with others!

Many groups have had the opportunity to actually get out into the field and actually do a little hands on work. Several students were able to find some fossils, micro-fossils, and of course Pembina Diamonds. Fun was had by all on those days!

Unfortunately there was a fair amount of rainy days during June, so some weeks we were not able to go into the field at all. Luckily, CFDC staff were prepared for those days and groups were able to enjoy a variety of indoor activities.

May and June were also the beginning of festival season, and the CFDC was able to take full advantage of it. So far, we have attended Kid's Fest in Winnipeg, and the Morden Block Party, Back 40 Festival, Teddy Bear Picnic and Angel Hair right here in Morden. Going to these festivals gives us a chance to connect with our community, as well as get our information out to those who have never visited before! We've enjoyed festival season so far, and we're looking forward to attending some more before summer's end.

Manning the booth at Kid's Fest was a blast! 

Looking for something to keep your kids busy now that school's out? Send them to Dino Day Camp! Our Youth Program Coordinators have been hard at work planning fun and educational activities to keep kids entertained all summer long. Catch up with us at the Morden Beach Blast on July 1 for some entertainment and information.

As for myself, I look forward to sharing this Blog, and all of our new and exciting discoveries with you this summer! Feel free to stop in any time this summer and #DiscoverFossils!

Paige Ready
Museum Assistant

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer's End

So today marks the end of field season for us summer staff! For most of us, school starts next week (!), so it's time to pack up our fossil gear and get back into the swing of doing essays and lab reports. Joe, our curator, will still be outside digging fossils and giving tours until the end of October, so don't worry, there's still lots of time to get a personal tour of the CFDC.

It seems like we've only been here a month, but there's a lot we've accomplished; doing tons of plaster jackets (many more than last year), exploring Pembina Valley Provincial Park in much greater detail than has been done before, and, of course, finding a whole bunch of new fossils, including squid, bony fish, sharks, and lots of mosasaurs. The museum's first ever Shark Week gave us the opportunity to display some of our best fossil shark material that, to my knowledge, has never been put on exhibit before (and next year will be even better!), while Bruce's Birthday, Kidsfest in Winnipeg, and Morden's Corn & Apple were awesome events that put us in touch with tons of people who didn't even know that fossils existed in Manitoba.

While travelling in the Provincial Park was a lot of fun, my favorite part of the year was finding a teensy-tiny, really well-preserved mosasaur backbone, one of the smallest in the entire collection. Digging for fossils can become frustrating after a while, but a sweet find like that vertebra instantly injects new enthusiasm into the hunt. I didn't achieve my goal of locating a pterosaur (flying reptile) skull, but a mosasaur's pretty nice too!

The Fossil Crew (mostly Aaron) has been working on improvements and replacements for various CFDC exhibits. Hopefully, we'll be installing many of these in the coming months and years, so even though we may be gone by then, there'll be a bunch of cool stuff for you to see that we'll have left behind. If that's not incentive to come visit, then I don't know what is! Meanwhile, there's plenty of things to check out already, so come on down. Until next year,

Matt Remple
Field Tech