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Last updateThu, 22 Feb 2024 3pm

Largest documented dinosaur graveyard unearthed in Badlands


    The largest dinosaur bonebed ever unearthed is providing evidence that the dinosaurs were wiped out in catastropic coastal storms, new findings published this month report.
    A bonebed containing thousands of Centrosaurus apertus, a horned relative to Triceratops as been found near Hilda, 50 kilometres north of Medicine Hat.
    “Data from this mega bonebed provide pretty clear evidence that these, and other dinosaurs, were routinely wiped out by catastrophic tropical storms that flooded what was once a coastal lowland here in Alberta, 76 million years ago,” says David Eberth, Senior Research Scientist at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, the lead author on the study and one of New Perspectives On Horned Dinosaurs, which published the findings this month.
    Covering an area of at least 2.3 square kilometres (the size  of 280 football fields), the Centrosaurus beds aren’t new findings in Alberta, but is the largest yet discovered.
    The massive deathbeds of the beasts help paint a picture of the prehistoric coastal landscape that existed in Alberta was submerged in water.
    This is seen as probably leaving the dinosaurs with no high ground to escape the floods, that can be compared to the floods Bangladesh experience every year.
    “It’s unlikely that these animals could tread water for very long, so the scale of the carnage must have been breathtaking,” says Eberth.
    “The evidence suggests that after the flood, dinosaur scavengers trampled and smashed bones in their attempt to feast on the rotting remains.”
    The mega bonebed also helps explain why dinosaurs are so abundant in Alberta’s Badlands, and also gives clues that there was in fact dinosaurs that herded in large numbers.
    The Tyrrell estimates that the number of dinosaurs in the area could be in the high hundreds to low thousands.
    According to the team, coastal plain floods, like those that afflict modern Bangladesh, occur on a geographic scale that is so vast that they often kill large varieties and numbers of the larger terrestrial animals, regardless of whether they live solitary lives or spend their time in large herds.
    “Because of their size and the scale of the flooding, dinosaurs could not escape the coastal floodwaters and would have been killed in large numbers. In contrast, fish, small reptiles, mammals, and birds may have been able to escape such seasonal catastrophes by retreating to quiet water areas, the safety of trees and burrows, or simply by flying away.”
“We’ve known about the Hilda mega bonebed since the late 1990’s, but the complexities of the project prevented us from documenting and publishing on it for almost 10 years.”

Hoodoo Preservation Project goes ahead


    The Royal Tyrrell Museum will be going forward with erecting barriers around the Hoodoos, possibly being installed this fall.
    The Mail reported in its August 12, 2009 edition, the museum was looking into putting barriers up to protect the popular destination for residents and tourists to enjoy for generations to come. Andrew Neuman confirmed the Hoodoo Preservation Project would be moving forward.
    “We have received some funding to proceed on that project this year,” Neuman tells The Mail.
    He explains they have completed the design and engineering phase and currently has a request for proposals on the Alberta Purchasing Connection website. There was a pre-bid meeting on the site on Tuesday, June 8.
    “The next bit is to start on the fabrication and we expect the installation to take place at the end of the tourist season,” said Neuman.
    He explains there are three objectives to the project. First and foremost is protecting the Hoodoos.
    “There has been a fair amount of vandalism, graffiti and carvings that are speeding up the weathering out there,” said Neuman. “The first objective is to eliminate the close personal contact between people and the Hoodoos themselves, and we’ll do that by putting up an unobtrusive fence. These will identify the sensitive areas and tell people they shouldn’t go into that area, and why.”
    Another objective he said, was to allow visitors a great experience by constructing stairways to ideal viewing venues.
    “We have done a lot of research on where the best places for viewing and taking pictures are,” he said, adding they are even planning special camera ledges to place the camera for the perfect holiday snapshot.
    With the new walkways and barriers, they hope to increase the safety of the site. For example, rain can make the site at best, messy, at worst, hazardous. He adds the improvements will make it more accessible to those with mobility issues, although because of the nature of the site, it will not be barrier free.
    The improvements will also add a shades area and more interpretive signs for the site.
    Currently, the Tyrrell has placed employees at the site to act as both guardians and interpreters. He hopes they will eventually move away from this.
    “We’ll evaluate the success of the project and whether or not any kind of constant presence by people is needed,” said Neuman. “We are hoping it won’t be so the money we are investing in building these new strategies will reflect in our manpower budget.”

Drumheller Relay For Life breaks $1 million mark


    The rain stayed away, but even if it poured, it wouldn’t have dampened the spirits of the 18 teams walking their way to $1 million.
    The fourth annual Relay For Life went last Friday night at the Drumheller Stampede and Ag Society grounds, and in its four years, it achieved its goal of breaking the $1 million mark. The announcement of this kept spirits high as they made their way around the track.
    "We did it," said jubilant Merridy Martin, event chair. "We made it for Tanya."
    Tanya Howard was the founder of Relay For Life in Drumheller. Just weeks before the 2008 Relay For Life, her battle with cancer ended.
    "That was her dream, not only to bring the event, but to make $1 million, and we brought her that dream," said Martin.
    She said the official total will be known shortly as they are still totaling up the numbers. She added the lines are still open and those who want to donate can still do so.
    The event went off without a hitch according to Jason Blanke who emceed the event. The main stage kept spirits strong as participants took time to remember, celebrate and fight back.
    Shari Christensen of the organizing committee was especially impressed with the Fire Coulee Bandits who started their set before midnight, and carried on into the early hours of the morning.
    “They played until about 2:30 a.m., they played until they had no more material,” said Christensen. She adds the cinnamon buns baked by Dr. Poulsen were a hit for all those who were up at 3 a.m. to enjoy.
    The $1 million mark came from all directions. The track was lined with dozens of luminaries, and the Chinookers took the top prize bringing in $20,070 alone. The Greentree Warriors, a team made up of students brought in over $4,000.
    “We’ve had teams that have been here for four years and understand the devastation of cancer, and then we had the Greentree Warriors, some may not have been touched by cancer, but they understood how important it is to raise funds for cancer research,” said Blanke.
    Along with the celebration, the Luminary Ceremony provided a moment of sober reflection for the toll that cancer has taken on friends, families and those who have battled cancer.
    Teri Sparkes led the Luminary Ceremony.
    “This year I have felt like I have never experienced before how selfish and cruel cancer is. This year, after this experience, I realize even more how important it is to be aggressive in the fight against cancer so future generations are spared from living in a world where cancer exists,” she said to open the ceremony. “I want to remember, celebrate and fight back for all those loved ones whose lives have been touched by cancer.”


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