[twitter]Devil’s Coulee Dinosaur & Heritage Museum
July 1st – September 1st, 7 days a week, 9:00am – 5:00pm
May – June closed Tuesdays. Winter openings by appointment. This is not Dinosaur Provincial Park, or the Royal Tyrrell. The Devil’s Coulee Dinosaur and Hertige Museum shares space in the municipal building in Warner. Itself, Warner is a small grid of 14 streets off the side of Hwy 4. It’s the usual tiny Alberta roadside town that is home to Canada’s last working grain elevator, a famous hockey school, and dinosaur eggs.
What the museum lacks in size, it makes up for in enthusiasm. On our Saturday afternoon visit we were greeted by Barrett at the front desk, paid our $5 each and then headed to a side room where Zacharie learned how archeologists make casts of fossils by making his own hadrosaur footprint.
He had lots of fun explaining to Barrett all he knew about dinosaurs, and our young guide patiently listened to everything.
While they dug away, I looked at the posters on the wall and finally realized why Alberta is such a hotbed of fossils. I knew that much of North America had been covered by an ancient sea millions of years ago, but I had no visualization. Then I saw these.
Now I get it. The foothills of the Rocky Mountains were a tropical coastline. The big beasts trapped between on ocean and the mountains. No wonder there is such a huge concentration in our province!
The claim to fame that Warner gets in the dinosaur trade, is from Devil’s Coulee, a few kilometres west of the town. It was there that a nesting site was found, complete with dinosaur eggs.
Barrett took time to walk us around each exhibit of the small museum explaining all the fossils, letting us reach in and feel the texture of the eggs and bones and telling us about the history of Devil’s Coulee.
The Devil’s Coulee discovery was iniated by Wendy Sloboda, a young local girl from Warner, Alberta, Canada. She was interested in fossils and artifacts and one day found what she believed to be dinosaur eggshell along the Milk River Ridge in May of 1987. She sent it to Dr. Len Hills of the University of Calgary who sent it to Dr. Philip Currie of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller. Dr. Phillip Currie confirmed that the pieces were dinosaur eggshell and immediately sent a crew of prospectors down to Warner to search the coulees for a similar site to that found in northern Montana of dinosaur eggs and babies.
After days of searching and really not finding anything, the crew came upon Devil’s Coulee. After searching all day technician Kevin Aulenback, sat down on a small hill for a bite to eat. Upon looking to the ground on his right he saw eggshell and on his other side he found an embryonic femur sticking out of out the ground. He ran back to the camp and after stumbling over the words “babies” and“eggs” for a few minutes the crew realized that Kevin had found something and went to investigate. Sure enough there were babies and eggs! Unfortunately the day was coming to a close, but the crew scheduled to come out a few days later to uncover the nesting site of some Hadrosaur (duckbill) dinosaurs.
Each egg is about the size of a volleyball
The prized possession of the Devil’s Coulee Dinosaur Museum is “Charlie,” a world exclusive. The cast broke after this model was made, the original skeleton is at Royal Tyrrell is too delicate to make another copy.
It takes about an hour or so to wander around, and if you plan ahead you can get a tour out to the bonebed of Devil’s Coulee. It’s the worth a stop to have lunch, and stretch legs while wandering the southeast corner of the badlands.
Oh, and the “Heritage” part of the Dinosaur “and Heritage” museum refers to the city office’s collection of old World War costumes and lifestyle artifacts from the town. If you’re in to war, or life back in the day it is interesting, otherwise the two rooms aren’t much.