9 MINE (LOWER EAST LIMB)

The 9 Mine tracksite was one of the earliest tracksites that was documented by researchers from the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in the early 1990's. The most prominant feature of this tracksite is a single lengthy trackway which proceeds in an uphill direction (due to structural folding) on a 40 degree slope. The prints were those of a large quadrupedal animal with hand prints about two-thirds the size of the footprints. There was good definition of the digits on the hand and footprints (five on the hand and four on the foot). These prints were virtually identical to an ichnotaxon described by C.M. Sternberg (1932) which were found in the Peace River Canyon in the Gething Formation (Lower Cretaceous: Aptian/Albian). The ichnotaxon is Tetrapodosaurus borealis, which has been convincingly linked to nodosaurid ankylosaurs based on morphological similarity and biostratigraphic occurrence.

The majority of this trackway was exposed by excavation by Tyrrell staff (see figure below). The final excavation revealed 36 manus/pes sets in one trackway, or 72 prints (Sternberg’s T. borealis holotype consisted of only 3 manus/pes sets or 6 prints!).

 

 

The 9 Mine Lower East Limb tracksite photograph (left) showing a single Tetrapodosaurus ichnosp. trackway with tracks infilled with paint to bring them out (white scale markers near top of trackway are 1 metre length).

Stylized trackway map of the 9 Mine Lower East Limb tracksite (right) with dotted line showing area of excavation by Tyrrell staff.

(Photograph provided by Dr. Philip J. Currie, courtesy of Alberta Community Development and the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology)

Plans for continued coal mining in the area threatened to destroy the tracksite, so a cooperative effort between the Royal Tyrrell Museum and Smoky River Coal Ltd. was initiated to collect as much data as possible before the site was destroyed. During this salvage operation one manus/pes set was cut out of the trackway and taken to the Royal Tyrrell Museum, as well a large latex peel of the trackway was made under the direction of Darren Tanke, a technician from the Royal Tyrrell Museum under freezing conditions. In order to prevent the latex mould from being wrecked by the cold the mine helped to construct a long tent with a heating unit over the mould which allowed it to set properly.

The plans for further mining in this area by Smoky River Coal Ltd. came to nothing and this tracksite is still visible and has not changed appreciably in the last decade.

The 9 Mine Lower East Limb tracksite in the summer of 2002 (Darren Tanke standing beside trackway with manus/pes excavtion visible