Geologic Field Trips of the Canadian Rockies: 2017 Meeting of the GSA Rocky Mountain Section
Late Cretaceous geology and fossils of Dinosaur Provincial Park
Published:January 01, 2017
Dennis R. Braman, Donald B. Brinkman, Donald M. Henderson, 2017. "Late Cretaceous geology and fossils of Dinosaur Provincial Park", Geologic Field Trips of the Canadian Rockies: 2017 Meeting of the GSA Rocky Mountain Section
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Dinosaur Provincial Park (DPP) was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, but in 1955 the exceptional quality and abundance of dinosaur fossils were already recognized with 80 km2 of the richest fossil beds being set aside as an Alberta, Canada, provincial park. DPP represents possibly the best window into the biology of the Late Campanian anywhere in the world. At present, more than 35 species of dinosaurs, 32 species of fish, 10 species of amphibians, 29 taxa of non-dinosaurian reptiles, 1 bird, and 20 taxa of mammals are known to have been discovered in DPP. The dinosaur fossils of DPP were first seriously collected in 1912, with many “trophy” specimens being sent to museums in Ottawa, Toronto, New York, Washington, and London among others. This initial rush of dinosaur fossil collecting persisted until the 1930s, but with declining effort and results. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, scientific study of the park resumed in earnest, and by the 1980s, the park was receiving the full attention of staff from the newly created Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, based in Drumheller. With modern scientific thinking and techniques being applied to its dinosaurian, and especially non-dinosaurian, fossils, the park is as important a resource as ever. Hydrocarbon exploration in Alberta has contributed immensely to our knowledge of the geological history of the province during the Cretaceous, thus enabling a better understanding of the factors, both physical and biological, that contributed to the creation, preservation, and subsequent exposure of the extensive fossil resources contained within DPP.