National Museum of Canada



The first vertebrate ichnology expedition to the Peace River Canyon was led by Charles Mortram Sternberg, 2nd son of the famous fossil hunter Charles Hazalius Sternberg (1850-1943).  The younger Sternberg was no stranger to fossil footprint work having found and described specimens from the Red Deer river valley in Alberta.  Charles also had a hand in describing footprints from the Carboniferous strata of Nova Scotia in 1933.  Charles was impressed by the number of footprints and trackways present in the Peace River Canyon, but observed that there was no skeletal material present at all in the footprint-bearing strata.  It seemed to Charles that wherever footprints were found in abundance there was a corresponding lack of skeletal material and vice-versa.



   Tracks of a large theropod  

      Irenesauripus mclearni

          (Sternberg, 1932)



One of the great tracksites along the banks of the Peace River.  Sternberg noted that the river level was not always constant and when it was high it would cover the tracksites, but when the river was lower track-bearing beds over 100 feet wide would be exposed.

    Sternberg's researches in the Peace River Canyon led to the naming of six new vertebrate ichnogenera and 8 new ichnospecies.  The ichnofauna of the Peace River Canyon tracksites include large theropods (presumed allosaurids), medium theropods, small theropods (presumed ornithomimids), large ornithopods (presumed hadrosaurs) and the quadrupedal ankylosaurs though Sternberg thought these prints might have been made by ceratopsians.