If the child in you has always been fascinated by the thought of giant dinosaurs roaming the earth, then the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alberta is a real treat.
Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology
Located in the heart of the Canadian 'Badlands' surrounded by multi-layered alluvial rock mounds, Canada's only museum dedicated to the science of palaeontology houses one of the world's largest displays of dinosaur fossils.
Life-size models in realistic habitats with sound effects welcome you through to the main galleries, which house interactive displays and videos about dinosaur behaviour and feeding habits, fossilised bone finds and complete skeletons with notes about where they were found. The glass-fronted preparation lab gives a glimpse of how the scientists painstakingly clean and recover the fossilised dinosaur remains.
Perhaps the most awe-inspiring gallery is the large Dinosaur Hall where the complete skeletons of some of these extinct animals have been reconstructed using largely fossilised bones. Here you will find the mighty carnivore, Tyrannosaurus rex, herbivores such as Stegosaurus and the giant Camarasaurus, alongside many others.
Visitors with children or elderly relatives can take a break about half way round their visit in a lounge area with comfy seats or have something to eat or drink at the café near the entrance. There is also a Cretaceous Garden within the building, which houses Canada's largest collection of prehistoric plant relatives.
Step outside and you can continue your visit with a walk along the museum's 1km Badlands Interpretive Trail where you can see examples of hoodoos, mushroom shaped rock formations, created by clay and sand deposits dating back 70 to 75 million years ago.
Fossilised dinosaur skeleton
The museum is named after Joseph Tyrrell who, in 1874 on assignment with the Geological Survey of Canada to find coal, stumbled on to the skull of a large carnivorous dinosaur, later named the Albertosaurus. Following his find, droves of fossil hunters came to the Red Deer River Valley which became recognised as one of the world's richest dinosaur fossil producing regions.
As well as housing the public galleries and a major research centre, the Royal Tyrrell Museum runs public and schools programs, science camps and distance learning courses.
To do justice to this wonderful museum, plan a two or three-hour visit. It is located northeast of Calgary about an hour and a half's drive away, and is 6km northwest of Drumheller.