Dinosaur Exploration Day… Absolutely amazing. One of our most memorable on the whole trip. Today we were immersed in all things dinosaur in the Dinosaur Provincial Park Alberta.
The park is one of the listed World Heritage Sites. Like the Great Barrier Reef, Great Wall of China and the Galapagos Islands. There are 981 sites on the world wide list to date. Today we were lucky enough to be in a very special part of the world.
We stayed the night in cow stink town then headed towards the park all filled with excitement and anticipation for what we might find.
First we went to the interpretive centre and museum. This place in linked to the museum in Drumheller.
Dinosaur Provincial Park has 90,000 visitors a year from all over the world. The park is 70 sq kms in size. 1% of the animals that died 75million years ago have been fossilised. Despite the low sounding percentage this is actually very high in term of preserving bones for fossilisation. The conditions have to be ‘just right’ otherwise the dead animals just rot. So what makes ‘just right’? The animal has to die near a river or water channel. The dead animal has to be covered quickly in mud. Then ground water has to be able to seep in to send the skeleton into the fossilisation process. This means it turns to bone and is saved for us lucky human beans to come along and dig up. Who would have dreamed such an adventure!
Today we were four of the lucky 10,000 a year that get to go into the rich fossil beds to explore and learn. We thoroughly enjoyed two hours in the field learning about different fossils and how to identify. We were shocked at how many. Soon as we walked in we came across a big bone nearly a metre long. The rest of the time it was bone after bone and piles of broken parts.
Anything from 75 million year old turtle, ancient crocodiles, fish and of course the big ticket prize – dinosaurs. On the way to our hunt site to Bone Bed #50 we seen a couple of desert Mule Deer. They are greyish and have big ears like a donkey. We all loved it when they bounced through the grass as the bus drove close by.
To spot the bone was super easy once we got used of it. Fred our very skilled guide said you must check four things, shape, colour, texture and the lick test. Now this was fun. Dinosaur bone will stick to your tongue. It sticks like an octopus tentacle. We also learnt that petrified wood is a little sticky, but bones were the most fun.
We found heaps of bones whole or in pieces, some crocodile, turtle, dinosaur skull, legs, fingers, toe, tooth and a piece of crocodile. All day we were grinning like the Joker. The landscape is so spectacular. The amazing coulees, the formations, textures and the colours. It was just a once in a life time experience just to hike through and over them.