The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Sunny side up: Paleontologists looking for another dino egg nest in Alberta

  • Print

WARNER, Alta. - A deep ravine in southern Alberta known as Devil's Coulee may be about to yield more of its secrets to paleontologists from the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

The area, surrounded by rolling golden grain fields about 10 kilometres west of Warner, has offered up a "motherlode" of dinosaur eggs and nests since it was first discovered by a local teenager in 1987.

It's been six years since the last nest was discovered, but that could change soon.

Francois Therrien, curator of dinosaur palaeoecology at the Royal Tyrrell, believes he has discovered the egg of a duck-billed dinosaur called a hypacrosaurus eroding out of a hill.

"I'll stay positive. I will say probably 90 per cent — chances are we are dealing with a nest," said Therrien. "There's so much eggshell found here and it's all one type of eggshell. I'm pretty confident."

The Devil's Coulee area was once part of an inland sea. It was the first dinosaur nesting ground discovered in Canada and the largest. Layers upon layers of nests have been found by researchers going through the area.

It has been the source of four hypacrosaurus nests that have yielded several eggs containing embryonic material. It has changed many of the existing theories about duck-billed dinosaurs.

One of the eggs had a fully developed embryo about 40 centimetres long. It is on display at the Devil's Coulee Dinosaur & Heritage Museum, about 70 kilometres south of Lethbridge.

"There's nowhere else in the country where you find so many nests, eggs and embryos. I'd say it is probably in the top three best places in North America," said Therrien, who has been working at the site for years.

Therrien said the significance of the treasure trove of dinosaur eggs can be put into perspective by the fact that only a few egg fragments have been found in the badlands near Drumheller, perhaps Alberta's most well-known dinosaur site.

"Here we can find 200 pieces of eggshell per square metre, so it's truly amazing."

The odds of finding a fully developed embryo are astronomical, said Therrien.

"With embryos the cartilage starts turning to bone quite late during development so you need eggs that are fossilized at or very near the time that the embryos have formed before they are buried. So the odds are against you. Even if you find eggs it doesn't necessarily mean there's going to be a baby inside."

The eggs in the last nest found in 2008 had already hatched.

"It's been a while so we are due. It was a hatched nest though so the part of the nest was there and the top part was gone but we found some small bones probably from an embryo," said Therrien.

"We know very little about baby dinosaurs. We know a lot about the adults - the big T-Rex, the big hadrosaurs, but we don't know where they started."

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Preview: RMTC's Armstrong's War

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • KEN GIGLIOTTI  WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / July 23 2009 - 090723 - Bart Kives story - Harry Lazarenko Annual River Bank Tour - receding water from summer rains and erosion  damage by flood  and ice  during spring flooding -  Red River , Lyndale Dr. damage to tree roots , river bank damage  , high water marks after 2009 Flood - POY
  • Aerial view of Portage and Main, The Esplanade Riel, Provencher Bridge over the Red River, The Canadian Museum for Human Rights and The Forks near the Assiniboine River, October 21st, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) CMHR

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your favourite Halloween treat to hand out?

View Results

Ads by Google