The name of this site conjures up images of the film, Jurassic Park, and that’s not so far from the truth. The Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada is one of the richest sites for dinosaur remains in the world – since digging began in the 1880s, archaeologists have found evidence of over forty different dinosaur species dating back over 75 million years. In recognition of this, it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
The environment in which dinosaurs thrived was a subtropical climate, much like that found in Florida. Their remains, crushed by time, pressure and the deposition of minerals and sediments, were preserved as fossils and revealed by the last ice age, which sheared off the upper layers of rock, exposing the fossil-laden strata and creating the Red Deer River Valley we see today.
The terrain now is a combination of distinct landscapes: badlands (a deeply eroded barren area), riverside cottonwoods and grasslands which combine to create a range of habitats for a uniquely diverse mixture of flora and fauna. The greatest concentration of life is in the riparian habitat along the Red Deer River Valley, which is also the smallest habitat. The area is home to 160 bird species from woodpeckers and warblers to golden eagles and prairie falcons, who live alongside coyotes, cottontail rabbits, mule deer and various types of snake.
Access to much of the park is restricted to palaeontologists, and would-be fossil diggers are out of luck. However, there are five hiking trails, outdoor exhibits and educational exhibits within the park itself, as well as the largest collection of finds from the area in the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, around 2 miles drive away.