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Where are the dinosaurs?

Colour image of globe showing changing position of continentsCretaceous Period rocks about 100 million years old are found in one small part of New Brunswick at Vinegar Hill near Cassidy Lake. The rock formation is only about 50 metres thick. Although the Vinegar Hill Formation is all that remains, it is likely that Cretaceous rocks once covered more of New Brunswick. Much of the soft rock was stripped away by the glaciers during the Quaternary ice ages. Geologists have found Cretaceous age sediments on the continental shelf south of Nova Scotia, washed out by rivers and melting glaciers over millions of years. From space the Cretaceous world would be familiar to us. The position of continents was starting to approach the modern configuration. The Atlantic Ocean was still much narrower than today and the Appalachian Mountains were higher.

The Cretaceous climate was generally warmer worldwide. The fossil record shows that the first flowering plants, called angiosperms, are from the early Cretaceous, about 130 million years ago. Dinosaurs would have certainly lived in New Brunswick, even if fossilized dinosaur remains have not yet been found.  The Vinegar Hill Formation might hold the most potential for dinosaur fossils. A single fossil plant macrofossil has been found in New Brunswick’s Cretaceous rocks. A remnant of an early conifer tree, Araucarioxylon it is related to the modern monkey-puzzle tree. It likely washed into the river that deposited the Cretaceous sand and gravel.  If we ever hope to find dinosaur fossils this would be the place. Animals undoubtedly lived amongst the trees on the Cretaceous landscape.