Father daughter duo making prehistoric finds all over Saskatchewan

Jon Ganshorn and his daughter Lily have spent the last 4 years hunting for fossils at home in Saskatchewan and abroad. It’s a passion that Ganshorn says was sparked during the summer of 2018 near Diefenbaker Saskatchewan.

“It was my daughter Lily that found our very first fossil during our summer vacation. We knew we had found something – but we didn’t know what it was. We were excited.”

Jon sent photos of the find to the University of Saskatchewan – and it was confirmed. The Ganshorn duo had found a cluster of Baculites. A prehistoric cephalopod from the cretaceous era.

“We went back to the spot every day – and we just kept finding things. We realized the material we had originally found was everywhere.”

The Royal Saskatchewan Museum was helpful during that first expedition – helping Jon and his daughter acquire the appropriate permits for their fossil digs. Since then Jon and Lily have dug up even more fossils – some of which have been of interest to museums – including the RSM.

“We’ve been able to donate some of our specimens to museums all over Saskatchewan. The Royal Saskatchewan was particularly interested in one piece we found.”

The piece about the size of a softball was a nautilus. This specimen was quite rare – with only a handful being discovered in the province. The last one was found in the 1960’s.

While the nautilus was the duos most scientifically important piece – it wasn’t their biggest find to date.

In August of 2021 Lily and John were able to recover an ammonite weighing close to 200lbs, just outside of Lethbridge Alberta. The specimen had to be moved by several members of the community, and extensive paperwork needed to be filed to ensure Lily could legally keep the piece.

In Canada fossils found, typically belong to the Crown. Special permits and provisions are available for certain finds. It is a process that Jon Ganshorn says does need to be conducted properly.

Lily has been officially granted ownership of the ammonite – which she now proudly displays in their home museum.

Jon and Lily founded the Saskatchewan “Dino-Hunters” a group that seeks to connect Saskatchewan kids with the study of paleontology and fossil research in the province. Exploring the world outside and finding a break from technology and the pressure of the pandemic is something Jon and Lily want to bring to kids all over the province.

The DinoHunters facebook page can be found here.

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