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Get your Master Angler's by helping land a prehistoric fish

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Parts of a Xiphactinus skull on display

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Parts of a Xiphactinus skull on display

Here’s your chance to have the best fishing story ever.

The Xiphanctinus, Manitoba’s biggest and oldest fish at 18-feet long and 80 million years old, has earned the Canadian Fossil Discover Centre (CFDC) a special Master Angler Award of Extinction, Travel Manitoba announced today.

Xiphanctinus swam in the saltwater seaway that covered Manitoba during the Late Cretaceous Period. Four years ago, a CFDC Fossil Dig Adventure Tour discovered a massive fossil in the Manitoba Escarpment ravine near Morden.

Currently, the excavation continues, and the public can assist in the dig through the Fossil Dig Adventure Tour. Those wishing to help will receive a Master Angler award certificate for their role in unearthing this unique fish, giving participants immediate bragging rights when the subject of "landing" the big one comes up with friends.

"The more people we get involved, the quicker the whole Xiphanctinus can be excavated," said CFDC paleontologist Joseph Hatcher said in a release. "Our Fossil Dig Adventure Tours have an incredibly high success rate of finding fossils."

Provincial Master Angler awards have been celebrating anglers’ achievements of catching trophy fish since 1960. The program, through its "catch and release" initiative, serves as an education and conservation tool for Manitoba’s world-class sport fishery.

"While Xiphanctinus isn’t technically a recognized species in the Master Angler awards program, we felt this particular specimen was deserving of some extra special recognition," Travel Manitoba president Colin Ferguson said.

The Xiphanctinus fossil is located at one of the CFDC’s active fossil dig sites. The ravine near Morden is also the same property where the first mosasaur (marine reptile) discovery was made in Canada in 1934.

Travel Manitoba and the CFDC are holding a "Name That Fossil Fish" contest, running June 8-30. For more information, visit www.travelmanitoba.com/NameThatFossilFish.

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