Dr. Don Brinkman, Head Curator, Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology
In 2006, the Royal Tyrrell Museum continued to study the paleontology of Dinosaur Provincial Park, undertaking both surveys of selected regions of the Red Deer River valley and targeted excavations. The largest dig site was in search of additional material belonging to a ceratopsian skeleton, one that appears to be an example of a new kind of horned dinosaur. The skeleton is nearly complete, but a few critical elements are missing, despite moving many tonnes of rock in the process. The material is currently being prepared by technicians for research and exhibit.
Surveys of the Park continued during the 2006 field season. One of the highlights was the discovery of an exceptional specimen of the soft-shelled turtle Aspideretoides foveatus. The team was especially excited when the complete shell was uncovered, revealing a puncture wound, apparently caused by a crocodile. Although the puncture had healed, a broken piece of the shell was out of place, leaving a triangular depression that documents a traumatic event in the life of this Cretaceous turtle.
In addition to research of vertebrate fossils, studies of the geology were undertaken by Dennis Braman, Curator of Palynology at the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Dr. Braman, who specializes in plant spores and pollen grains, spends time examining the pattern of environmental changes that occurred as the Western Interior Seaway flooded southern Alberta during the Late Cretaceous period. The rocks documenting these environmental changes are preserved at the very top of the valley in the eastern end of the park. Dr. Braman's work shows that this transition occurred over a long time period, with at least three short westward advances and retreats of the Bearpaw Sea, before the area of the park was fully flooded around 74 million years ago.
Plans are underway for 2007 to continue surveying the Park's paleontological resources.