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1155 Views 4 Replies Last post: Jul 15, 2014 9:57 AM by Tabfish RSS
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Jul 15, 2014 7:12 AM

Skull fragment fossil found near mountain summit – help ID?

Hi all,


I was recently hiking Cascade Mountain in Banff, Alberta, Canada, and found what looks to be some kind of fossil near the summit at around 8,300ft. From what I understand, it is relatively common to find fossils, mainly of sealife, around this range of the mountain (I found a few little 'snail-like' imprint fossils up there as well). This rock caught my eye while descending the mountain.


It appears to be made of a strong but sandy type of stone which leads me to believe it may be some kind of mold fossil (a cast?). It has clear teeth-like imprints and what looks like part of a nasal cavity, hence the 'skull fragment' title. Several of the 'teeth' seem to have molar-like indents on their base. Any information or opinions on the specimen would be greatly appreciated!


Thanks kindly,



  • Jacob,


    Nice hike.

    I was at Cascade Ponds some years back, and I have a lovely photo of Cascade Mt. from Banff itself - presiding like a god overlooking Banff Avenue as you look up at it from the gardens just over the river. I didn't get to do any geologizing on the mountain (I was really on an IT contract in Calgary).


    Your specimen is probably a piece of sandy limestone, and it contains a brachiopod/bivalve (seen edge-on showing the ribbing).

    The teethy marks that peeked your curiosity, however... Well, I can see where you got the idea of a skull from, but I don't think so. Cascade Mountain offers snail-like fossils in the form of gastropods and ammonites (some ammonites from the greater Rockies area are shown in the plates at the end of this paper -,1957_Jurassic_Fernie.pdf). There are hints of ammonite in your 'skull' but there are too many bits that don't fit. As well as the teethy marks themselves, there are other somewhat similar marks elsewhere. I suspect these are sedimentary structures, but from just some photos of eroded rock I am basically just guessing. Also, all these rocks were deposited in a marine environment; anything with a skull (mammals/reptiles/etc) would be very rare/absent; it is certainly not a humanoid skull (the rocks were laid down millions of years before primates appeared on earth.


    So... opinion more than ID, but I hope it helps.



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