In my constant strive for self-betterment, I like confronting my fear of t-rex whenever I get a chance. Some might remember my first encounter with t-rex and his smelly breath at the Natural Science Museum in London, or the terrifying ordeal of riding the Jurassic Park log-ride at Universal Studios. Since that first Jurassic Movie, t-rex has plagued my dreams. Sometimes he’s in black and white, other times he’s tearing through St. John’s like a bloodthirsty lizard. Whatever the case, he’s left me permanently scarred.
While in the Alberta Badlands, I took a visit to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller. It’s Canada’s only museum dedicated to palaeontology, and I’d argue that it’s one of the country’s best museums, period. The museum is named for Joseph Tyrrell, a geologist who made the first dinosaur bones discovery in Red Deer River Valley in 1884. Here you’ll find an evolutionary celebration of Earth’s 3.9-billion year history.
There is seriously a LOT to take in,but fortunately, the museum is laid out in a way that allows you to follow through easily. You’ll wander through the Terrestrial Paleozoic era, Cretaceous Alberta, the Burgess Shale, the Devonian Reef, and even the Ice Age.
My two favourite areas were Dinosaur Hall and Lords of the Land, featuring real fossils and complete skeletons from dinosaurs around the world. Bonus: there’s a nearly perfect skull of a t-rex on display, and its size will scare the hell out of you.
Another incredibly cool feature of the museum is the Preparations Lab, where you can figuratively watch museum technicians prepare fossils found in Alberta for research and display. I want their job. Kinda.
Despite its somewhat hard to reach location, the Royal Tyrrell Museum receives about 400,000 annual visitors. I ended up being there on Canada Day weekend, when just about everyone in the whole world wanted to be there as well. I shoved aside children and old men with canes to get better views, shoving my camera in front of their line of vision to declare, “Get bent, grandpa, I’m a real journalist.”
My friends and I got there early, and somehow managed to avoid the 100-person line-up that formed shortly after. I’d recommend going mid-week.
Matt and I, notorious nerds that we are, took a lot longer to go through the museum than Laura, Jess, or Allan. They were waiting impatiently for us at the end, but we were fuelled on dinosaur madness. Outside the museum, there’s a trail leading to the top of a lookout overlooking the Badlands. Again, we had to push people off the staircase to get there, but no biggie. Throw some elbows.