Dinosaur Provincial Park in the winter, why not?

Quick Stats

  • Distance: 0.9Km Round Trip
  • Height Gain: 30m
  • Round Trip Time: 20m
The fossil hunter trail is an interesting short walk that has interpretive signs that describe the history of fossil hunting in this area. There are also buildings setup that are designed to replicate what a fossil extraction site looks like. As you can see here, if you go in the winter, you might just have the entire parking lot and trail to yourself.
The scenery is very unusual for Alberta which makes for an interesting walk. Note that the soil here gets very slippery when wet. Be careful if the snow is melting and making the ground damp.
Along the route are informative signs. Which I read and can now pretend I know much more about the trail than I really do. This area has a high number of Dinosaur fossils due to the high rate of sedimentation. When animals died, they were buried quickly before being scavenged by other animals or destroyed by erosion and decay. This preserved their skeleton which over time becomes fossilized.
The buildings on the trail contain fossil excavation site recreations. The first fossils in this area were found by Natives and were carried for good luck. It wasn’t until 1884 when Joseph Burr Tyrrell was surveying the area for minerals that he stumbled across the significant deposits in this area. In the following years, a rush occurred in this area with many fossil hunters coming to find artifacts. Over 300 specimens have been removed from dinosaur provincial park and sent to museums around the world.
Here is a Hadrosaur that is housed in one of the buildings. They were plant eaters and would weigh about 4 tons (their tinder profile said 3). They were very abundant in this area with about half of the fossils in this park being Hadrosaurs.
It is a short walk past more signs to the next building. The fossils found today are no longer bone but are minerals that have replaced the bone. If the silica, iron, and calcite found in the water seep through the bone it is called permineralization. If it is from percolating ground water, it is called petrification. If the bone is dissolved leaving a hollow shape behind, they call it a natural cast.
On to the next excavation site. According to the signs, the dinosaurs in this area existed for 160 million years but all suddenly died about 65 million years ago.
This is a Centrosaurus. It would have been about 2.4 tons and was 6 meters long, looking very similar to a rhinoceros. These fossils are brushed with a glue to prevent cracking from frost heaves that can occur in the winter.
This is part of a bed of fossilized bones that is about the size of a football field. There can be over 100 bones per square meter in this bed, indicating this species would travel in herds. One theory is that a large herd was pushed into the river where they drowned. Another theory is that a significant rain event occurred and due to poor drainage in the area, water levels came up dramatically drowning the herd.
When you are done soaking in the views and looking at bones, it is a quick and easy walk back to the car.


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