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Alberta, Canada



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Provincial Fossils:
Provincial fossils from Alberta

Petrified wood
Petrified wood is the provincial stone of Alberta and most is Late Cretaceous in age. Mineral-rich water, infiltrating the cells of buried wood, deposits minerals (usually silica) that eventually replace the organic material, while retaining the original structure of the wood.

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Paleontology and geology

The Precambrian: During the Precambrian, the early North American continent (Laurentia) was assembled from several smaller pieces of land, as well as islands, volcanoes, and oceanic crust. The collisions that brought these pieces together formed huge mountains ranges, and the sediments eroding from them were deposited in shallow seas surrounding the continent. Because Alberta was located near the edge of the continent, its Precambrian rocks record these ancient mountains and seas.

The Paleozoic: Shallow seas spread over parts of Alberta several times through the Paleozoic. The warm, tropical seas and coastal estuaries were home to brachiopods, trilobites, gastropods, corals, stromatoporoids, conodonts, and early bony fish and sharks. At times, the seas became so shallow that evaporite deposits formed. Toward the end of the era, an island arc began to collide with the continent, creating a deep trough along the Alberta-British Columbia border.

The Mesozoic: In the early Mesozoic, warm, shallow waters spread over western Alberta from time to time. When the Rocky Mountains started to build up in the west, the shallow seas moved inland and formed the Western Interior Seaway. Ammonites, plesiosaurs, and various bony fish and sharks could be found in the seas. As the climate became more humid, forests and swamps developed in the lowlands. These habitats were home to many different amphibians, lizards, turtles, early mammals and birds, as well as a spectacular diversity of dinosaurs.

The Cenozoic: After the Western Interior Seaway drained away in the early Cenozoic, lakes and swamps filled the lowlands. Over time, the warm, humid climate became cooler, and forests and swamps were replaced by savannas and grasslands. Eventually, glaciers spread down over Alberta from the north and from the mountains, leveling the plains, eroding and redepositing sediments, and forming valleys in the mountains. In between the glaciers, this province was home to many different mammals, such as mammoths, early wolves, and various rodents.

Links to more on Alberta paleontology

Organizations | Education and Exhibits | Research and Collections | Resources


Societies and Clubs (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Geological Association of Canada's Paleontology Division: The division's activities, publications, and goals.

Alberta Palaeontological Society: The APS is a non-profit organization promoting the science of palaeontology through study and education; making contributions to palaeontology through discovery, collection, description, and public education; preserving material for study and posterity; and more.

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Colleges and Universities (showing 2 of 2 listings)

University of Calgary Department of Biological Sciences: The department offers MSc and Phd degrees with a concentration in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

University of Alberta's Laboratory for Vertebrate Paleontology: Learn about U of A's undergraduate and graduate programs in paleontology.

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Museums (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Royal Tyrrell Museum: The world-renowned Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller exhibits fossils outlining the history of life with particular emphasis on dinosaurs found in the surrounding badlands. This site provides background on the museum as well as a virtual tour of its major exhibits.

Royal Alberta Museum Quaternary Paleontology: Begin here to explore the RAM's Quaternary collections, research, and exhibits.

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Government Agencies (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Canada Geology: Access to geology related resources for all of Canada.

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Education and Exhibits

Virtual Exhibits (showing 3 of 3 listings)

The Joffre Bridge Fossil Exhibition: The Joffre Bridge Roadcut locality reveals a diverse collection of Paleocene terrestrial and freshwater fauna and flora. This site describes the locality, its fossils, its history and how paleontologists have reconstructed its ancient environment.

River of Death Dinosaur Discovery Centre: This official website of the planned museum based on the Pipestone Creek Pachyrhinosaurus bonebed give the visitor a sense of what will soon be on exhibit and provides information on the dinosaurs and the ecosystem in which they lived and died. 

The Dawn of Animal Life: While most people know of the dinosaurs from a mere 70 million years ago, very few are aware that the Earth's fossil record stretches over 3 billion years into the past. Using exclusively Canadian rocks and fossils, this exhibit highlights almost three billion years of early evolution when only simple, soft-bodied creatures inhabited the Earth.

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Research and Collections

Ongoing Research Projects (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Dinosaur Provincial Park research reports: Park field season reports from the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology and the University of Alberta can be found here. Most reports concern dinosaurs, marine reptiles, and turtles.

Don Brinkman PaleoProfile: Brinkman is Curator of Vertebrates at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, and works on Cretaceous turtles and paleoecology, especially in Dinosaur Provincial Park.

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Image Collections (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Royal Ontario Museum dinosaur images: An excellent collection of dinosaur fossil images, many of the fossils represented being from Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta. There are also many photos of museum displays and photos taken in the field.

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General Reference (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Enchanted Learning's Dinosaur Fossils Found in Canada: A list of dinosaurs found in Canada, by province.

Dinosaur Provincial Park UNESCO World Heritage site information: UNESCO World Heritage page on Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta.

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