We are in southern Alberta now. We apologize for the lack of blogging the last few days, but first, we got waterlogged at the West Edmonton Mall and then thoroughly dried out in the Badlands. So,we blame moisture levels.
But, dinosaurs and fossils...
The Badlands of Alberta were created through a series of events over a loooooong period of time.
- Alberta was covered with an inland sea a long time ago.
- Then, an ice age came and the land was covered with a large glacier.
- When the glacier started to retreat, it left behind a large chunk of ice which acted as a dam for the meltwater.
- When that chunk melted, all the melted water rushed back toward the glacier and hit it with a thud. (This part took only about 48 hours)
- The swirling glacier water stirred up all the surface rock and swept it toward Hudson Bay, leaving behind softer sedimentary rock that had built up over many many years during the time that dinosaurs lived here and that the inland sea was in Alberta.
- Over the last 12,000 years, the softer rock (sandstone, ironstone, mudstone) has gradually eroded away to create the Badlands.
You drive along the flat (flattish) prairie, covered with grass and cows and some pronghorn elk and prairie dogs and suddenly on the horizon, you notice that the earth suddenly drops away. As you get closer, you start driving downhill quite steeply into valleys - or the Badlands.
The Badlands were so named by early French settlers who called them "les mauvaises terres". Some settlers could not even get across the Badlands. The Badlands are a semi-arid microclimate valley that follows a river.
Dinosaur Provincial Park comprises 80 square km of the Badlands. It was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979 because of three unique factors:
- alarge number of cottonwood trees
- the Badlands
- the quantity and quality of fossils.
The boys of our family went on a bonebed hike to see a mass grave of centrosaurs. They concluded that the most likely cause of death was a flash flood, but other possibilities were that they were chased into a river or attacked.
The girls in our family went on a bus tour of the Natural Preserve and saw hoodoos, dinosaur bones, a complete skeleton of a dinosaur, and learned about the Badlands.
This was possibly the best interpretive centre we went to on our whole trip!