Prehistoric fish found near Sooke named after amateur collector

The fish lived about 25 million years ago, scientists say

A prehistoric Chimaeridae fish. (Contributed)

A prehistoric Chimaeridae fish. (Contributed)

During a fossil expedition to a beach near Muir Creek northwest of Sooke six years ago, an amateur collector made the discovery of his life – a rare new Chimaeridae fish.

After donating his mysterious find to the Royal B.C. Museum, Steve Suntok recently learned the skeletal remains, a mandibular dental plate, was an iconic fish from the Upper Oligocene age.

Identified as a new species, it has been named Canadodus suntoki – Canadodus means “tooth from Canada,” and suntoki is named after Suntok.

The fish would have lived about 25 million years ago.

“Every find’s exciting, but this one especially so,” Suntok said Wednesday.

“It was unusual, but I didn’t know what I found. It’s always fun when this stuff contributes to science.”

RELATED: East Sooke man discovers B.C.’s first dinosaur skull

The find was documented in this month’s Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology by Russian researcher Evgeny Popov. Victoria paleontologist Marji Johns and Suntok co-authored the paper.

Link to the article

Chimaeridae is a family of cartilaginous fishes that typically have short rounded snouts and long tapered tails.

The fossil dental plate is broad and strong, indicating the fish fed on invertebrates using its dentition to crush shells to extract the nutritious animal inside.

These fishes rarely preserve well in the fossil record, making this fossil find of high importance, John said.

“This find is a one-and-only and it’s the first found from the West Coast of Canada. It’s extremely rare,” John said.

The Suntok family are skilled fossil collectors. They have discovered many fossils near Sooke and donated important ones to the Royal B.C. Museum.

Suntok’s daughter on a family outing found a coracoid bone of a new water bird. In 2015, it was identified and named Stemec suntokum by Royal B.C. Museum research associate Gary Kaiser.

Suntok has added to the museum’s Sooke-area fossil collection: whale vertebrae specimens, ribs, a seal bone, a potential terrestrial mammal bone, fish bones, fossil leaves and many invertebrate fossils (snails, clams, mussels, oysters, corals, brachiopods, barnacles, echinoderms, and tubeworms).

“Steve has a very keen eye. You need to stand there and look at the rock and know what you’re looking for, and then you might see things,” John said.



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

A power outage Thursday night left nearly 3,000 homes in Clinton and the 70 Mile areas in the dark. (Katie McCullough photo).
Updated: Clinton, 70 Mile left in the dark after vehicle crashes into transmission pole

BC Hydro still working to restore power to 330 homes in 70 Mile House

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

Community consultation is now open regarding disposal of the former Ashcroft Elementary property, which since 2015 has operated as the Ashcroft HUB. (Photo credit: Vicci Weller)
Feedback now sought regarding disposal of Ashcroft Elementary

Residents of the region can have their say about the future of the former AES property

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

B.C. driver’s licence and identity cards incorporate medical services, but the passport option for land crossings is being phased out. (B.C. government)
B.C. abandons border ID cards built into driver’s licence

$35 option costing ICBC millions as demand dwindles

sdf
2nd in-school violence incident in Mission, B.C, ends in arrest

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

BC Emergency Health Services has deployed the Major Incident Response Team (MIRRT) as COVID-19 positive cases rise in the Williams Lake region. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
B.C.’s rapid response paramedics deployed to Williams Lake as COVID-19 cases climb

BC Emergency Health Services has sent a Major Incident Rapid Response Team to the lakecity

U.S. military units march in front of the Capitol, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 in Washington, as they rehearse for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, which will be held at the Capitol on Wednesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden aims for unifying speech at daunting moment for U.S.

President Donald Trump won’t be there to hear it

Williams Lake physician Dr. Ivan Scrooby and medical graduate student Vionarica Gusti hold up the COSMIC Bubble Helmet. Both are part of the non-profit organization COSMIC Medical which has come together to develop devices for treating patients with COVID-19. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Group of B.C. doctors, engineers developing ‘bubble helmet’ for COVID-19 patients

The helmet could support several patients at once, says the group

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

Most Read