Prehistoric fish found near Sooke named after amateur collector

The fish lived about 25 million years ago, scientists say

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

Students/staff evacuate Rossland Summit School due to smell of smoke

SD20 says students in different learning groups didn’t come in contact with each other in evacuation

Beaver Valley Curling Club set to return to the rink

B.V. Curling is following Curl BC’s lead and will have ice layouts that allow for physical distancing

Man whose crime spree began in Nelson pleads guilty in death of female passenger

Anthony Cortez scheduled to be sentenced for 2017 incidents

Trail Blazers: Fruit Fair is where farmers markets began

Photos: Courtesy the Trail Historical Society - scroll to the bottom to see the building’s exterior

Innovative Kootenay Boundary study augments care for renal patients

Project called the Lung Ultrasonographic Assessment of Volume Status in Hemodialysis Patients

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific will work to get donations to food banks while also producing an online music concert

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Interior Health reports five new COVID-19 cases

Across the region, 34 cases are active

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

Most Read