Scientists Hope to Find More Dinosaur Eggs and Dinosaur Babies in Alberta

Palaeontologists from the Royal Tyrrell Museum (Drumheller, Alberta), one of our favourite parts of the world, have a busy few hours ahead of them.  Starting about now field staff from the museum led by the curator of dinosaur palaeoecologyy Dr. François Therrien, will begin excavating an area which could potentially contain a nest of dinosaur eggs and fossilised embryos.  If an intact or near complete nest of dinosaur eggs is found, it will be the first of its kind ever to be discovered in Canada.

The Royal Tyrrell team will be exploring two locations within the Devil’s Coulee Dinosaur Egg Site, which is in the small town of Warner, about three hours drive or so from the Museum.  Seventy-five million years ago or thereabouts, this part of southern Alberta was a duck-billed dinosaur nesting ground with at least two genera of Hadrosaurs known to have nested in the area.  The media has been invited in so that they can witness and report upon the progress of the excavation.

A Hypacrosaurus egg was discovered eroding out of a hill earlier this summer and a second site identified which contained a substantial amount of fossilised eggshells which were once part of a Maisaura’s nest.  Hypacrosaurus was a member of the Lambeosaurine clade of duck-billed dinosaurs.  It had a dome-shaped crest on its head.  Fossils of this large, herbivorous dinosaur have been found in Alberta and over the border in Montana (United States).

A Picture of Two Duck-Billed Dinosaurs (Hypacrosaurus)

Hoping to find a nest of dinosaur eggs.

Hoping to find a nest of dinosaur eggs.

Picture Credit: Ohio State University

Maiasaura was a Saurolophini clade member of the duck-billed dinosaur.  The name means “Good Mother Lizard” and this dinosaur is most famous for being sent into space (another blog article) and for providing scientists with extensive evidence of dinosaur nesting sites.  A nesting colony, nick-named “Egg Mountain” because of the wealth of fossil material, was discovered in Montana.  Dr. Therrien and the rest of the field team will be hoping to find intact eggshells and the preserved remains of dinosaur embryos or possibly dinosaur babies.

An Illustration of a Maiasaura and Her Nest

"Good Mother Lizard"

“Good Mother Lizard”

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Devil’s Coulee site was discovered in 1987 when a local teenager found dinosaur eggshell fragments.  Since then it has been one of the best known locations in the world for dinosaur nests and embryo fossils, however, no new evidence of a dinosaur nest has been found for over six years.  The Royal Tyrrell team are hoping to rectify this and add to the research on the four Hypacrosaurus nests that have been found at this location.

Good luck to everyone involved.  Hope you have smashing time (not literally of course).

Oh yes, that reference to Maiasaura in space, for an explanation: Dinosaurs in Space

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