Entomologist Dr. Bruce Archibald spoke to an audience of about 60 in Ashcroft about the importance of the McAbee Fossil site east of Cache Creek

Fossil talk sheds light on McAbee site’s importance

Audience learns how the site's 53 million year old fossils can help science determine where the planet is heading.

Dr. Bruce Archibald was in Ashcroft last week at the invitation of the Village. He spoke about the importance of the McAbee Fossil Beds east of Cache Creek which were given an official heritage designation in 2012. They were also closed to the public at that time.

Archibald has been visiting the site for years, studying in particular  the ancient bugs.

“My colleagues travel around the world,” he said. “I work here.”

If you want to find out how our world became modern and how it operates today, the McAbee fossils will help.

The McAbee fossils are 52.88 million years old.

He said there are many fossil sites in the interior because the area was once all high plateau, dotted by lakes and covered by forest, and the sites are ancient.

“I tell people that these sites are like the NHL of fossils and McAbee is Wayne Gretzky.”

The difference is the quality of the fossils at McAbee.

McAbee, he said, is the clearest window of any of these sites into this age (Cenozoic). It nurtured a palm-spruce community with an average temperature of 10 degrees.

The temperature hasn’t changed, he said, but the seasonality has. There was little difference in the seasons 52.8 million years ago, unlike now where the temperatures differ drastically between summer and winter.

He said scientists figured out how to determine paleo climate a century ago by collecting toothed margin leaves and entire margined leaves from a site. The proportion between the two will give you the mean annual temperature for that area, he said.

The amount of plant diversity at McaAbee, he said, would normally be found in a tropical setting, but this is in a temperate one.

Scientists now have a handle on climate change, he said. The fossils at McAbees are so well preserved that you can count the number of stomatas on the leaves. Stomatas regulate carbon dioxide-oxygen exchange. When you compare modern leaf density to these ancient fossils, you can figure out the percentage of carbon dioxide in the air.

“That’s cool!” he said.

Archibald said he’s been studying McAbees for about 20 years. “Once I started looking at it, it became clear to me pretty quickly” how important the site was.

“A big chunk of the site is gone,” he said. “What we’ve got left is precious.”

After a half hour talk, the 60 audience members asked questions for the next hour. Many wanted to know how large the site was. Others wanted to know if the public will ever be allowed back on it.

“This is such a world class resource, it deserves to be treated seriously,” he said. “It should be reburn – in a much better way. People see what they’ve lost and not yet what they will gain. It will be better.”

He noted that many interpretive centres on archaelogical sites have programs for the local population, especially children.

“I hope that there’s still good discoveries there long after I’m gone,” he said. “Stuff coming out of the ground and research being done on properly curated artifacts. There’s still a lot more to come out of the ground.”

Just Posted

$9.2 million in federal funding announced for Ashcroft Terminal

MLA calls announcement a game changer for the region

Local doctor says he has no plans to leave the community

Dr. Amgad Zake says he’s settled in after more than two years at the Ashcroft clinic.

Ashcroft student wins writing award for powerful poem

Vivian McLean’s ‘A Poem for Chocolate’ takes top prize at Kamloops young authors event.

Lace up your shoes for the eighth annual Skip’s Run

A pledge challenge is a new feature for this year’s event.

Local News Briefs: Area museums now open

Plus free workshops, a tourism symposium, a community fan-out trial, and more.

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

B.C. man facing deportation says terror accusation left him traumatized

Othman Hamdan was acquitted of terrorism-related charges by a B.C. Supreme Court judge in September

Woman’s death near Tofino prompts warning about ‘unpredictable’ ocean

Ann Wittenberg was visiting Tofino for her daughter Victoria Emon’s wedding

Will Taylor Swift’s high concert ticket prices stop scalpers?

Move by artist comes as B.C. looks to how to regulate scalpers and bots reselling concert tickets

36 fires sparked May long weekend, most due to lightning: BC Wildfire

As warmer weather nears, chief fire officer Kevin Skrepnek says too soon to forecast summer

Ariana Grande sends message of hope on anniversary of Manchester bombing

Prince William joins survivors and emergency workers for remembrance service

Cariboo business supplies security ATVs for 44th G7 Summit

Spectra Power Sports Ltd. of Williams Lake supplying security vehicles for G7 Summit

B.C. flood risk switches from snowmelt to rainfall: River Forecast Centre

Kootenays and Fraser River remain serious concerns

Pipeline more important than premiers meeting: Notley

“Canada has to work for all Canadians, that’s why we’re fighting for the pipeline”

Most Read