Whether you’re five or 75, you probably think dinosaurs are fascinating creatures. You may wonder how they lived for so long (160 million years!) and why they were so successful in their environment. Or maybe you’re asking yourself why Alberta has the greatest diversity of dinosaur species on the planet. Dinosaurs are a cultural phenomenon; there are countless movies, games, and books that fuel our imaginations. There are also more palaeontologists studying dinosaurs than ever before to give us a better understanding of prehistoric life.
Fossils, Fossils, Everywhere!
You can see dinosaur skeletons in museums around the world, but the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alberta is unique. It’s situated in the heart of the rugged badlands, carved out by melting glaciers 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, exposing the sediments of the Late Cretaceous, a geologic period of time that ended with a mass extinction 66 million years ago. The badlands of Alberta contain countless fossils—from microscopic pollen to some of the mightiest dinosaurs. Through their fossils, the Museum scientists are able to gather more evidence to fully understand the environment to complete a picture of an ancient world. It is the only museum in Canada to be entirely devoted to the research and display of plant and animal life based on the fossil record and one of the largest palaeontology museums in the world.
A Living Museum
The Museum experience begins from the moment you drop into the incredible Drumheller valley. Surrounded by hillsides that reveal remarkable treasures of the past, the building is situated right where dinosaurs used to roam. The galleries take you on a journey through time starting with the small creatures of the Burgess Shale in their underwater environment, see the remains of the world’s largest ichthyosaur (a marine reptile), wander through the Cretaceous Garden to see what Alberta looked like during the Age of Dinosaurs, and of course, be amazed at the 40 mounted dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes in the grand Dinosaur Hall. Be sure to give yourself at least two to three hours to go through the galleries as the displays give an exceptional overview and explanation of the history of life on Earth.
There’s always something to look forward to at the Museum, including a new exhibit called Grounds for Discovery that highlights the incredible fossils that have been discovered during industrial activities and the workers who found them. The centrepiece of the exhibit is a new type of nodosaur (armoured dinosaur) discovered in northern Alberta in 2011. This new species is the oldest dinosaur known from Alberta – approximately 112 million years old – and is the best-preserved armoured dinosaur ever found.
Beyond the Walls
There’s a lot to explore outside the building as well. Take your own interpretive hike through the badlands along the one-kilometre trail just outside the Museum entrance, or participate in one of the many programs that are offered in the summer, suitable for all ages. For example, you can take a guided hike, dig in a realistic quarry, hold and discover real fossils or create a fossil replica that is yours to keep.
Discover your own adventure at tyrrellmuseum.com.
October 1 – May 14
Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Mondays, except holiday Mondays
May 15 – August 31
9 a.m. – 9 p.m. seven days a week, including holidays
September 1 – 30
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. seven days a week
Adult (18 – 64): $18.00
Senior (65+): $14.00
Youth (7 – 17): $10.00
Children (6 and under): Free
Toll free in Alberta
310-0000 then 403-823-7707
Toll free in North America (outside Alberta)
Outside North America
Highway 838 Midland Provincial Park
Drumheller, Alberta Canada T0J 0Y0