Dr. Don Brinkman, Head Curator, Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology
In 2005, the Royal Tyrrell Museum (RTM) collected three dinosaur specimens in the park. One was a hadrosaur (duck-billed dinosaur) skull preserved in ironstone. Fossils in ironstone are generally well preserved, so this promises to be an exceptional specimen. The second was a partial skeleton of an ornithomimid (bird-mimic) that included complete hind limbs. The third was the skull of Styracosaurus, a member of the ceratopsian or 'horned dinosaur family. This specimen is now being prepared and should go on exhibit in 2007.
Surveys of the park continued and one of the highlights was the discovery of the skull of the soft-shelled turtle Aspideretoides foveatus. It is the best skull of this turtle that we have yet collected. The entire dorsal surface of the skull was exposed, so it was found just in time.
In addition to studies of vertebrate fossils, studies of the park's geology were undertaken. The museum's geologist, Dr. David Eberth, had previously recognized that the sediments here show evidence for frequent flooding of the entire coastal plain during the Late Cretaceous Period. He and François Therrien, (then a post doctoral student and now a RTM researcher) collected data to document this. This idea has implications for the interpretation of how the animals lived and were buried. Future work will examine the role played by these floods.
In 2006 we will continue our work in the park with further dinosaur excavations. Our first priority will be a ceratopsian we worked on previously. Most of the skeleton was collected, but the frill is missing, and we think it is still in the hillside. Also, we will continue our extensive survey of the park. The past summer saw many heavy rainfalls, and the resulting erosion brought new fossils to light. So we will be going back to areas that have been productive in the past to see if new specimens have been exposed.