Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fossilized salmon raises questions about origins of this species

Last weekend I discovered a tiny salmon smelt fossil located along the Puntledge river system - approximately 150 meters south of Nymph Falls (map of it is located here).

This system is known to be of the late Cretaceous period (around 90 million years ago) and is famous for the discovery of an Elasmosaur nearby.

Current knowledge of prehistoric salmon is sketchy at best, in fact the only reference I could find of it online is a "news" article sponsored by a salmon canning company. If what this site says is correct, the current theory says that salmon originated as a separate species approximately 100 million years ago, and lived and spawned in shallow lakes, before heading out to sea.

Finding this salmon smelt at the bottom of what was once a shallow sea (embedded in the fossil was shells only found in the ocean) suggests not only that salmon lived in the oceans in prehistoric times, but that their offspring was born in the oceans as well - not in lakes or rivers like they do today - so who knows when or why they changed their breeding habits.

If the species is indeed about 100 million years old, then this should be one of the oldest salmon fossil ever found, and for sure could use some extra attention. Right now my camera is not working (no batteries left) but demand willing I'll get a photo uploaded of it as soon as possible.