Ask Dr. Caleb Brown about dinosaurs in Alberta, and you’ll receive an earful back.
“Albertosaurus,” he says. “Albertadromeus. Albertaceratops. Albertonectes. Albertochampsa.”
Those are real dinosaurs, named after the province that has become known as the best place in the world for dinosaur fossils. Brown should know. He’s a paleontologist at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, a dream job for a scientist like him, made all the more special because it’s near the childhood home where he first fell in love with dinosaurs.
Step in to the cool office of paleontologist Caleb Brown, filled with the gargantuan skeletons of prehistoric beasts which roamed the Badlands millions of years ago.
Brown is one of many scientists at the Tyrrell expanding our knowledge of the extinct beasts that once roamed the earth. In doing so, those scientists seem to have a knack for drawing the world’s attention. Most recently the museum’s palaeontologists made headlines by putting on display a stunningly unique fossil of a heretofore unknown species of nodosaur. Part of what made it unique was its state of preservation. Not only was fossilized bone preserved, but nearly the entire carcass was too – skin, scales and even pigments of colour. It looks more like a mummy or statue than a skeleton.
This generated almost as much attention as Brown did himself a few years ago, when he buried in the notes of a scientific paper a marriage proposal to his then-girlfriend (who is also a doctor working at the museum). The Internet loved that one.
Still, the work that goes on every day at the museum is serious stuff, often propelled by discoveries in the neighbourhood. The Tyrrell is located near the Canadian Badlands, a large area of southeastern Alberta filled with rustic ranches, ghost towns and charming municipalities. Here, eons of erosion regularly expose a stunning number of dinosaur fossils, which has turned the region into a hotbed, not just for scientists, but for dinosaur lovers from all over the world.
The nearby Dinosaur Provincial Park is beloved for its guided paleontological tours and comfort camping. Drumheller has turned itself into the town of dinosaurs, including the world’s tallest replica. Outside of the Badlands, near the northern city of Grande Prairie, is another renowned dinosaur museum. Located near the famous Pipestone Creek bonebed, the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum is named after the influential paleontologist often seen as the model for a character in Jurassic Park, who is also from Alberta.
This is part of what keeps Brown, and dino-loving tourists from all over the world, returning to the province. “We’re in the hotbed of dinosaur paleontology here in the province of Alberta,” he says.