Have you ever touched a real dinosaur fossil? You could if you visit Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada. I went there with my family while on a vacation to the west coast.
Dinosaur Provincial Park is located in Alberta’s badlands. 75 million years ago, the Canadian Badlands was a subtropical paradise filled with towering redwoods, palm trees, giant ferns, and dinosaurs. Today, it is home to the highest concentration of Cretaceous fossils in the world.
The park is a world heritage site and the only way to travel through the park is by signing up for one of the organized tours. My family took the Fossil Safari tour. During the summer, it’s very hot in the badlands so it is important to wear a hat and sunscreen.
Our guide took us in a van through the rocky terrain. When we arrived, we walked the rest of the way to our destination. While we were walking, it was really interesting to see all of the scattered bones half-buried in the ground. It’s illegal to take fossils home from the park, though it looked tempting.
We got to sit and learn about how to identify different types of fossils. For example, we learned how to tell the difference between a rock and a dinosaur tooth. It’s not as easy as it looks! The guide brought out boxes with samples of different fossils in them, like teeth, skin, and bones.
After our lesson, we used the skills that we learned to try and find more fossils among the rock. Fossils on the ground look like ordinary rocks to the untrained eye. To tell the difference between the two it was important to look at specific markings and shapes on the fossil. Those factors determined whether it was a shark tooth or just a normal rock. It was hard at first, but after some practice, it became much easier.
The landscape was beautiful, and learning about fossils was really fun. Dinosaur Provincial Park was one of the highlights of my vacation.