Canada’s Dinosaur Museum (aka the Royal Tyrrell Museum) has one of the largest displays of dinosaurs in the world. No worry if you know little about palaeontology (the study of fossil animals and plants). You’ll just leave a little smarter because of all the hands-on activities.
You won’t run out of things to look at because there are over 125,000 fossils, some small and others enormous. The place can be a little scary too!
The museum was named after Joseph Burr Tyrrell, a 26-year-old geologist who found the skull of Canada’s meat-eating dinosaur, the Albertosaurus, just a few km from here.
Some of the exhibits
The Dinosaur Hall has one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaur remains including the herbivore, Stegosaurus, the giant Camarasaurus, the Tyrannosaurus rex, which was the “King of the Tyrant Lizards”, and the Triceratops, with its large bony frill and three horns.
There is also a collection called Lords of the Land, which contains some of the rarest pieces, from lithe raptors to a blackened T. rex skull nicknamed “Black Beauty”.
A mass grave of 22 Albertosaurus sarcophagus skeletons was discovered around here. Albertosaurus (al-BURR-toe-SOR-us) was the top predator of its time and a close relative of Tyrannosaurus rex.
The Age of Mammals was the beginning of the modern world, when dinosaurs began to disappear, gradually replaced by smaller (and sneaky) mammals. The result? Some strange looking creatures. One on display in the Mammal Hall is Pantodont who was the size of a bear with teeth of a plant eater and claws of a digger.
The woolly mammoth came to North America from Asia around 100,000 years ago and it still looks mighty scary.
About 251 million years ago, 90% of life on earth was wiped out, including all the dinosaurs. When the last ice age came along 10,000-15,000 years ago the ice turned to fast-moving water and stripped the landscape. The result? Exposed dinosaur fossils, such as those found in the valley where the museum is located.
Some dinosaur remains are still in the ground and there is a trail you can take in search of them. There’s also an indoor workshop where you make your own fossil replica.
Where is it?
The Royal Tyrrell Museum is in the Canadian badlands, 6 km (4 mi) northwest of Drumheller, Alberta, 138 km (85 mi) from Calgary, and a 3-hour drive from Banff.
Just 15 minutes east are the hoodoos, weird mushroom-shaped rock formations caused by erosion.
There is a cafeteria on-site, picnic tables on the grounds and an outdoor play structure. So lots to keep all ages happy and occupied.
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By Sylvia Fanjoy
Photo credits Sylvia Fanjoy
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