Fossil Pearl, from Nanaimo

circa 85,000,000 BCE
RBCM.EH 2009.028.0001

White shiny (nacreous) pearls are rare enough in nature today. Ancient pearls are very rare indeed. This and three other pearls found on the east side of Vancouver Island are thought to be the first of Cretaceous age to have been found in Canada.

This fossil pearl was discovered in 1994 and donated by Thor Henrich of Victoria. While searching for fossils in a quarry near Nanaimo, Thor spotted a small white object among decomposing shale fragments on the ground. To his surprise he had found a pearl, still recognizable after 85 million years in these marine rocks. Fossil pearls are rare finds.

No clams were found with the pearl, but several clam species occur in the associated rocks. The often enormous plate-like clam Inoceramus and the oyster-like Sphenoceramus are two of the most common marine creatures in these deposits, which were formed in quiet near shore water off the coast of ancient British Columbia.

This object selected by Dr Richard Hebda.