An ammonite fossil believed to be the largest ever found on Vancouver Island has been unearthed near Nanaimo.
Two residents were hiking near Mount Benson when they stumbled upon the fossilized impression of the ancient sea creature.
The spiral-shaped, shelled marine animal is about one metre wide at its widest point.
The fossil is still in the woods where it was found, and its exact location is being closely guarded.
"I'm looking forward to getting it displayed in a museum," said Graham Beard, a Qualicum Beach Museum paleontologist.
Beard made a cast of the fossil. When it is ready, it will be displayed in the museum.
Elke and Enzo Wohlleben found the fossil while out walking. They told Beard, who contacted a member of the Geological Survey of Canada. The pair visited the fossil.
"When we got there, I realized it was a mould." The fossil was the mud around which the animal died.
"It was one of the largest ones I've seen," Beard said. "It's a very important specimen. It's still there. It's intact. I'd like it to stay that way."