2 Oct 2015

Visiting Hoodoos and Royal Tyrrell Museum

Say hello to my little friend! This is Morgan and her auntie, among the hoodoos near Drumheller where she was having fun with science. Seventy million years ago, this area was a shoreline plain and shallow sea where lots of plants and animals lived. Now it's dry and not much grows except scrubby grass and bushes near the streams.

It's al lot easier to learn about geology and paleontology when you run around the hoodoos like Morgan has done, and you're able to see all the layers in the ground that have built up day by day over millions of years. In the Alberta Badlands, there are plenty of places where there's no recent accumulation of soil and plants to hide the layers in the ground. A hoodoo forms when there's a tougher layer that resists eroding. The tough layer makes a cap, and as the softer layers wear away on the sides a pillar can get quite high. Some of the hoodoos are interestingly shaped!

You can see the clay and bits of stone all around Morgan. As the ground is weathering away here, new bits of stone start to show from where they have been buried for millions of years in the layers of sediments. Some of these bits of stone are the bones of dinosaurs and other long-ago animals that have been in the ground so long, they have turned to stone. I've always liked that these bones are called fossils, from an old word for something dug out of the ground. It isn't an everyday thing to find fossils (unless you live near Drumheller!) so it's nice to have a non-ordinary word to name them.

At the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, many of these fossil bones have been prepared for display. Some of the displays use carefully-made replicas of the bones, which are lighter and easier to arrange in the shape of the animal when it was alive. There's an active website for this museum which is as fun to explore as the building. The museum even hosts short courses for distance learning, and it hosts a course for homeschools on paleontology! It's one of my favourite museums.

While some fossil bones are from small animals, people are particularly interested in the animals larger than ourselves. I like to look at this picture, and see how Morgan's little hands and feet have bones like the ones in this dinosaur's foot!

It's easy to tell that Morgan enjoyed her day at the museum, learning about science and the animals of the past! I'll have to find her some books now she's growing old enough to read them and ask questions.

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