World's Largest Fossil Bed Found in Alberta

For whatever reason, Montana and Alberta have extensive districts with ample fossilized dinosaur remains.  This has include the recent discovery of soft tissue in Montana.

 The theory described below instructs us that these animals were living in vulnerable coastlands.  I am not sure I buy that.  We have had plenty of tropical storms, but moderate penetration of the coastal zone.  It is pretty good at self protection.

A major flood would be far more effective.  Remember the Yangtze and the Mississippi.

World's biggest dinosaur graveyard found in Alberta



A piece from the Centrosaurus apertus bonebed.Photograph by: Colleen De Neve, Calgary Herald

Scientists in northern Alberta say they've uncovered the largest dinosaur graveyard in the world and unlocked the mystery of why so many fossils are found in the province.

A 2.3-square-kilometre bonebed containing thousands of bones belonging to a horned dinosaur called the centrosaurus was found near Hilda, Alta., a community near the Saskatchewan border, according to David Eberth, a senior research assistant with the province's Royal Tyrrell Museum.

The site, he said "is really ugly looking. The bonebed is actually exposed, it's very patchy and exposed in outcrops along the beautiful landscapes along the South Saskatchewan River."

The dino graveyard was actually discovered in the late 1990s. However, reports confirming the discovery will be published this month.

And it's not just the size of the site that excites Eberth. Alberta is world-renowned for the high quantity of beautifully preserved dinosaur fossils found here.

"We've always been puzzled by that. We've always enjoyed it, but it's always been a puzzle," he said. "This discovery is helping us understand why that is."

The Hilda bonebed, which preserved the remains of thousands of animals that died simultaneously, has given scientists a working theory as to why Alberta is a modern hot spot for paleontological discoveries.

More than 76 million years ago, ancient Alberta was a lush tropical coastal area and the Hilda bonebed provides evidence that the region was periodically subject to catastrophic tropical storms that could drown thousands of large animals.

When the centrosaurus roamed the area, it looked like a triceratops, with a horny head plate, but was about the same size as a cow.

The centrosaurus was, however, much dumber than a cow.

Geological data shows that hurricane-like storms could dump between four and five metres of water on the area.

As the flood waters rose, the slow, dumb-witted creatures would have probably been unaware of the danger until it was too late. The flat, featureless landscape would have given them no high ground and no escape.

When the flood overtook them "they would have tread water for a while, like cattle would do. But they would have tired very quickly and drowned," Eberth said.

Their remains would have then piled up as the water receded and been picked over by predators who had the good sense to get out of the way of the flood.

It's a little sad, he admits. But the death of thousands of centrosaurus has given scientists a key toward explaining why Alberta is home to so many beautiful fossils of large dinosaurs.

"Alberta just doesn't seem to be able to stop showing us new dinosaurs and new information about dinosaurs," Eberth said. "What this bonebed is telling us is that there's scads more work that needs to be done here."

Harold Whittaker, the vice-president of the Alberta Paleontological society, a group of amateur Paleontologists, said he was excited about the discovery.

"That's a great find, that's a huge bonebed," he said. "I look forward to going down there and getting a look at it."

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