Yesterday, I took a journey into an otherworldly landscape.
There were castles, but they were a far cry from Casa Loma.
The mushrooms looked like they’d put you on the fast track to false teeth.
And lo, what is this strange piece of wood embedded in the arid earth? Did some old codger’s cane snap as he tried to summit Mount Sandstone?
Wait – that’s not wood. It’s a bone. And no boring chicken bone, either.
This is the rib of a TERRIBLE LIZARD!!!!
Yes, for weeks I’ve been honing my terrible lizard trot in anticipation of this trip to Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the remains found in the park make a comprehensive record of the Cretaceous Period (144 to 65 million years ago).
Dinosaur Park is all about getting out and interacting with the badlands. There are programs to suit everyone from the armchair palaeontologist to the wannabe Sam Neill. Want a quick overview of the park? Try the two hour “Explorer’s Bus Tour.” Won’t leave until you’ve single-handedly unearthed a Gorgosaurus skull (or at least pushed around a stone or two)? You’re better off signing up for the “3 Day Guided Excavation.”
I went on the “Centrosaurus Quarry Hike” – a 2.75 hour expedition to a spot where some 300 Centrosauruses died and were fossilized.
You can only venture into this part of the park if you’re with a guide (like the enthusiastic Katrina, here) or a palaeontologist.
Orion from Victoria, B.C. helps demonstrate how a dead dinosaur becomes a fossil. Later, his mom demonstrates how laundry detergent is used.
Interesting note: Orion’s imagination will probably be going wild once he gets home, because he learned that, 75 million years ago, this area’s climate was very similar to that of Vancouver Island. The sea was only 300 km away.
Katrina points out the various components of this Centrosaurus.
Fully assembled, it would look like this!
One of the coolest aspects of Dinosaur Provincial Park is that they actually encourage you to have a “fossil finding experience.” So after Katrina unveiled the bone bed, we were set free to explore the immediate area.
And if you think the bones were all scooped up long ago by scientists in Tilley hats, think again – dino fragments are scattered like confetti! Wouldn’t this one look perfect on my mantle, right beside that bowl of loose change, keys and unexplained metal thingamabobs? Someone pass me a shovel!
Yeah, RIGHT. Pocket a fossil and you’ll face a fate worse than death by T-Rex claw.
Dinosaur Provincial Park is located 48 kilometres east of Brooks, Alberta. If you’re doing a dinosaur trip, make sure to include both the park and the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which is 176 km Northwest.
Thanks to Travel Alberta for travel arrangements.