Bonebeds and dinosaur remains—three weeks of prospecting in Alberta

The museum’s dinosaur researcher, Dr. Jordan Mallon, led his first field expedition this June accompanied by collections technician Margaret Currie. Their three-week journey to southeastern Alberta produced some interesting finds to explore further in the coming years.

Jordan Mallon crouches behind a dinosaur bone embedded in rock.

Jordan Mallon with a tibia from one of the hadrosaur bonebeds. Image: Jordan Mallon © Canadian Museum of Nature.

Well, I’m back in my office and feeling a little out of place. It’s a strange thing to go from three weeks under the hot sun in the badlands of Alberta to sitting in front of a computer in an air-conditioned office in Ottawa. It takes some time, but you get used to the lack of comforts and amenities out there. And as glad as I am to be back home, I do miss tromping over the buttes and through the coulees of the badlands in search of dinosaurian treasure.

Looking back, I think Margaret and I had a very successful field season along the South Saskatchewan River. We located a number of prospects to follow up with next year. These include two duck-billed dinosaur (hadrosaur) bonebeds and a possible associated hadrosaur skeleton (predictably, we found it on one of the last days in the field and didn’t have time to collect it).

The back end of the frill of the horned dinosaur (Vagaceratops irvinensis).

What appears to be the back end of the frill of the horned dinosaur Vagaceratops irvinensis. We hope to collect it next year once the logistics are sorted out. Image: Jordan Mallon © Canadian Museum of Nature.

Image of tyrannosaur bones in the rock, beside a tool.

The partial skull roof of a tyrannosaur, as it appeared in the rock. Image: Jordan Mallon © Canadian Museum of Nature.

We also found what appears to be the skull of a horned dinosaur called Vagaceratops irvinensis (see the original skeleton on display in the Talisman Energy Fossil Gallery), buried under nine feet of hard ironstone rock. I’m most excited about this find, but it will require a lot of planning and heavy labour to remove. Still, it’s something to look forward to next year.

Margaret found and collected a large, exploded jaw of a horned dinosaur (ceratopsian) that I think will piece back together nicely. In addition, we collected some bits of turtle, as well as ceratopsian and carnivorous dinosaur that should prove interesting. Not a bad haul for our first year out!

Many people were quick to ask about how the flooding in southern Alberta affected my work there. In light of how devastating the floodwaters were, I count myself among the lucky ones because it had very little impact on our work. Margaret and I camped at prairie level, a couple of hundred feet above the river, and our work in the adjacent badlands didn’t take us very near to the river.

Debris floats along the top of the river.

Debris floats along the swollen South Saskatchewan River. Image: Jordan Mallon © Canadian Museum of Nature.

We watched as the water slowly rose, turned brown with mud, and carried uprooted trees past us. It was a real sight to see, but things more-or-less returned to normal by the time we broke camp.

This is my last post on this season’s fieldwork. If you’re still interested in learning more about dinosaur research at the Canadian Museum of Nature, please stay tuned to this blog for further updates on the preparation of our Dino Idol contest winner, “Canadian Club”, and other ongoing projects. Until next time!

Read previous blogs about this fieldwork:

This entry was posted in Fieldwork, Fossils, Research and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Bonebeds and dinosaur remains—three weeks of prospecting in Alberta

  1. Chuck Clark says:

    Is your office in Ottawa or Aylmer?

  2. Pingback: Alberta Bound! Returning to hunt for dinosaur fossils | Canadian Museum of Nature – Blog

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