Albertosaurus was shorter than most of the RVs I’ve been stuck behind on my journey around the great province of Alberta, but as a smaller ancestor of T. rex, he still packed a serious bite. Somehow I fell in love with this species that is no more, perhaps because this dinosaur of the Late Cretaceous was named after a manmade geopolitical boundary for a province that was only officially admitted in 1905. As a traveler in the big badlands of western Canada, I was determined to find it.

Last month I was lucky enough to learn how to find dinosaur bones, and so this weekend, I took my newfound knowledge and put it to work out in Dinosaur Provincial Park. From the driver’s seat, eastern Alberta looks flatter than a coffee table, but out here, suddenly, the land opens like a gaping wound, and the sandstone slopes turn awesomely mysterious.

A whole dinosaur leg bone, exposed on the surface at Dinosaur Provincial Park in eastern Alberta. (Photo by Andrew Evans, National Geographic Traveler)

A whole dinosaur leg bone, exposed on the surface at Dinosaur Provincial Park in eastern Alberta. (Photo by Andrew Evans, National Geographic Traveler)

These are the Canadian Badlands  (fom the French: les mauvaises terres à traverser), and they are packed with dinosaur bones. Simply walking around various sections of the eroding landscape, I saw entire, whole dinosaur leg and pelvic bones sticking up out the surface, exposed by the wind and water erosion that carves such fantastic shapes from the rock substrate.

Working with David Lloyd from the Royal Tyrrell Museum, I spent an afternoon uncovering bits of Centrosaurus skeleton, to which there is no end in this eternal dinosaur land. Brushing dust away in the hot sun, and touching actual dinosaur bones with my bare fingers, felt like traveling back in time.

For an even better glimpse of what the world was like 75 million  years ago, I spent the following afternoon at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which, in my humble opinion, is the best dinosaur museum on Earth. It was there that I got to see my Albertosaurus, both as a skeleton, and as a full-scale model, complete with a nasty overbite and leering eyes.

And there, in the museum, gazing into this creatures’ representative plastic eyes, I realized that although this dinosaur might have been smaller than the giant dinosaurs of stage and screen, none of those RV’s would stand a chance against Albertosaurus.

Dinosaur Provincial Park in eastern Alberta. (Photo by Andrew Evans, National Geographic Traveler)

Dinosaur Provincial Park in eastern Alberta. (Photo by Andrew Evans, National Geographic Traveler)

Comments

  1. Caroline
    Edmonton
    August 30, 2013, 1:34 pm

    One of my favourite places in my adoptive province. Thanks for featuring it :)

  2. [...] Dinosaurs in Drumheller [...]

  3. Magda Castro
    Lima - Peru
    September 5, 2013, 3:02 pm

    Dear Evans I am a teacher of English and my students are using LIFE series by National Geographic. They are in the elementary level and this is their message for you:
    Dear Evans we watched your video about dinosaur’s bones and we liked it a lot. we love your job and we want it.
    We are going to follow your blog. Your job is very interesting.

    Best Regards,

    Elementary Class
    Universidad Cesar Vallejo – Lima- Peru

  4. Betsy Falcon
    lima Peru
    September 5, 2013, 4:17 pm

    Dear Andrew we are students at Cesar Vallejo University in Lima Peru , we would like to congratulate you for your blog .There are interesting videos so we would like you to make one of Machu Picchu in Cusco or other interesting places in Peru. Best regards Betsy

  5. Donna Martin
    Dinosaur Provincial Park UNESCO World Heritage Site
    September 16, 2013, 11:51 am

    Dinosaur Provincial Park UNESCO World Heritage Site is located 48 km northeast of Brooks and is a 2 hour drive from Drumheller, Alberta where the Royal Tyrrell Museum is located. Just wanted to make sure people are aware that the park is not at Drumheller.