It's nice to be surprised during your travels. Such was the case when I visited Devil's Coulee Dinosaur and Heritage Museum, located in the small prairie town of Warner in southern Alberta. The town and its museum are about 50 miles south of Lethbridge, not far north of the Montana border.
Warner has a population of less than 400 people, so I wasn't expecting much when I decided to visit the community museum. What I found was an interesting collection of fossils, dinosaur information, pioneer heritage displays, and wonderful friendly volunteer student guides who were delighted to show me around, answer my questions, explain modern farming techniques, and talk to me about my life experiences. It all made for a most pleasant afternoon.
Warner came to the attention of the dinosaur world when a local teenager (Wendy Sloboda) found dinosaur eggshell fragments in 1987. This discovery was confirmed by scientists at the University of Calgary and the Royal Tyrell Museum. It led to the excavation of the first dinosaur nesting site in Canada, a Hadrosaur (duckbill) site containing 10 fossilized dinosaur eggs.
The fossilized Hadrosaur eggs were found to still contain embryotic material inside. It’s very rare to find fossilized eggs with unhatched babies, or nests of hatched but still young dinosaurs living in nests — but something about the soil chemistry in the area helped with their preservation at this location around Warner.
I had hoped to take a guided tour to the site where the eggs were found, but heavy rain the day before my visit had made the trail too slippery and dangerous, so the tour of the site was canceled the weekend I visited (the clay of the badlands becomes extremely slick when wet). I'd hoped to return some day to visit the actual nesting site, and perhaps I still will. Instead I explored the museum, saw a Hadrosaur nest and embryo, other fossils, and dinosaur exhibits. It was simply presented, but an interesting display none-the-less.
The museum's Heritage Gallery features artifacts and stories from the "early days" of the Warner region....always fun to look at this old stuff.
If you love dinosaurs and things dinosaur-related, be sure to include a stop at this interesting museum when visiting the Montana-Alberta region, and by all means go on a tour of a dinosaur nesting site, weather permitting.