Squid hunting in Morden? 0
By Lorne Stelmach
The uninitiated might wonder why researchers interested in squids would find their way to Morden in the heart of the prairie.
But the home of the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre is fast becoming a major destination for research related to monsters of the ancient seas, and that is what recently attracted visitors from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
They came in a quest to expand their knowledge of Cretaceous squid, and the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre had much to offer them.
Reporting on their visit on the CFDC site, Trish Weaver said they were "awed by the number of fossil squid pens for us to sample ... and they were willing to let me take chunks of these pens back to North Carolina."
What is a squid pen?
It's a feather-shaped internal structure that supports the squid's mantle and serves as a site for muscle attachment. It acts similar to a backbone and gives the squid some structure. It is derived from the shell that the mollusk used to have ... sort of like a snail's shell that found its way inside instead of covering the outside.
Weaver said they were examining and deconstructing the squid pens to learn what minerals they are made of and increase their overall knowledge of these creatures.
During their visit to the CFDC and Morden, they were taken out to one of the active dig sites where the CFDC is working on another mosasaur find and some bird bones.
Weaver said it was a good opportunity to see and learn a little more about the stratigraphy or different layers.
And at another dig site, they then found what they came looking for - some small fragments of squid pens. The rest of the morning was spent driving around to other sites looking at stratigraphy, talking squid and learning the local history of Morden.
After a day of visiting various field sites and having limited success at finding squid pens, they spent the rest of the afternoon and most of the next day sampling pens from 22 pieces of squid in the CFDC collection.
Acting director Peter Cantelon said they welcome any opportunity to share their collection and work with other centres and would welcome them back.
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences collections - including more than two million specimens - focus on the zoology, geology and paleontology of North Carolina and the southeastern United States.
In addition to maintaining the state's zoological collections, museum scientists conduct research in the natural sciences, collaborate on research projects with universities, state and federal agencies and international organizations and interpret natural history for the public. There are seven units in the research section focussing on amphibians and reptiles, birds, fish, geology, invertebrates, mammals and paleontology.