The Dinosaurs of Drumheller

We were proceeding happily along the flatlands of Alberta when we came to a big gash in the ground.


It was the Red Deer River Valley, home of the Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology. Those eroded riverbanks are full of fossils.


So I posed with a plastic dinosaur. You would have done the same.

The Tyrell museum is like the Page museum on steroids. It’s huge and everything is covered in mounds of detail. After two hours we were victims of information overload.


The entry hall is a diorama  of a bunch of Albertosauruses, the first specimen having been discovered by Mr. Tyrell as he searched for coal. They are a bit smaller than a T. rex, but not much.


This is an ammonite. I’m sure you recall the biblical battle between Joshua and the Ammonites. Smiting a large one (this one is two feet across) must have been painful. Strangely it is not mentioned in the museum, which insists that the Ammonites lived hundreds of millions of years ago but were extinct by the end of the Cretaceous, like the dinosaurs.

Stores sell “ammolite” which is the fossilized inner shell. The minerals that convert the shell to a fossil create the colors. A docent postulated that the original lining would have looked like an abalone.


This was my favorite display. It’s a complete skeleton of an Albertosaurus in the position in which it was found. Obviously the ‘rock’ it’s in is not original, and the head is a copy of the original (below, right) because the real head was too heavy to mount like this.


For scale, Alice and the Real Head.


This is the front half of an armored dinosaur. The whole thing would have been about 20 feet long. A conservator worked on this for over four years to get the non-fossil stone removed.


Of course they could not call themselves a real museum without a complete T. rex. It was found in the states, which one I forget. Half of the local finds were duck-billed dinosaurs. The T. rex had a relatively short existence, about the last million years out of the 150 million for all dinosaurs.


This is the fossil bed exposed by the Red Deer River. There are three named formations, all deposited between 74.5 and 77 million years ago. The K-T extinction occurred about 65.5 million years ago. They are still finding fossils there. The museum is just out of sight at the bottom left.

After the museum we ventured into Drumheller and chose O’Shea’s Eatery and Pub. Alice ordered a whiskey sour and the waitress returned with some green liquid and ice, and a salted rim. The ‘salt’ turned out to be sugar, which didn’t help. It turned out that (1) the bartender didn’t show up, so (2) the waitress looked up Whiskey Sour and came up with this. It was her first attempt at a cocktail. The green came from Rose’s Lime Juice, we think (it was a bulk dispenser). Anyway, Alice couldn’t drink it and settled for a non-alcoholic Budweiser, the only time ever that will ever be a good choice. The food was fine – lasagna and a half rack of Root-Beer BBQ ribs.

An Irish pub with no bartender. Joshua would not have stood for it.