Thursday, September 14, 2006


We're taking a poll.
Dinosaurs, lived thousands OR millions of years ago?

After a week on the farm, we headed for Red Deer. On a day hike at Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary, a migratory bird refuge, we met an older couple. He was using a pocket knife to cut rings of birch bark, she enjoyed the sun and lake view. Within 2 minutes, the man had introduced himself. "Did you ever see 'Dances with Wolves?' I made all those costumes." Except the wedding dresses, they brought in some girls to make those. How old are we? Where are we from. He has socks older than the kids, older than me. He was Ralph Kline's camera man, built his reputation. Apparently before Kline left Canadian Government, disgraced.

We tried to share Alberta enthusiasm, wanted the couple to know how mush we'd enjoyed the dinosaur museum at Drumheller. Amazing, to think of dinosaurs here, to watch their bird ancestors.

Humph. Not a one of those dinosaurs lived more than 4,500 years ago. Died in the big flood they did, Noah's flood. Of course the Canadian government won't give money to the thousands of scientists who recognize the facts. He gave us his web address so we can look into ordering his book.

Outside the Royal Tyrrel Museum, trails through Alberta's badlands trace the paths of legendary paleontologist, marking some of the largest/most diverse fossil beds ever found. Motorized vehicles are prohibited. Unless you want to race your screaming, oil leaking dirt bike a mile or so away from the museum.

Our tour began in the gift shop. Dinosaur claw salad servers, anyone? Books, stuffed toys, sweat shirts and recordings of Canada's own Bryan Adams .

We walked through the Precambrian Era all the way to the Cenozoic, concentrating mainly on the Mesozoic. Moroccan trilobites give way to jawless fish and eventually reptiles. In the Cretaceous garden, ferns, cycads and conifers inspire thoughts of their 70 million year-old cousins. The Koi in the ponds are not as hearty as their armored ancestors. Signs warn against throwing coins in the pond. Dead fish with X-eyes at every pond.

Camarasaura, allosaurs, Stegosaurus... everyone was there. Nests, eggs, ancient coral beds and my favorite, the hadrosaurs. The museum is beautiful, impressive with an onsite lab, and offers a version of history different than the man's. The Palaeoene Epoch and the rise of mammals began some 65 million years ago. The ice age brought polar bears from Asia to North America,. They met camels traveling the opposite direction. And here we are.