My crew from the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, Canada, is spending time this week working with my good friend and colleague Dr. Tyler Lyson and his team from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Marmarth Research Institute. We are hoping to work together on projects looking at the dynamics of dinosaur extinction, while at the same time working private ranch land to collect fossil for the ROM collection.
But why not study the extinction of the dinosaurs in Canada? It is true that K/Pg boundary outcrops in several areas in Canada where the fossils of land-living and freshwater animals are also preserved in the rocks. Two sections are particularly notable- the Scollard Formation along the Red Deer River of Alberta, and the Frenchmen Formation in southern Saskatchewan. Although these rocks produce the classic “last dinosaurs”, including T. rex and Triceratops, there is precious little rock outcrop to explore, they only preserve a small sliver of time immediately before the asteroid impact layer, and good skeletons and skulls of dinosaurs are very rare (and yes, T. rex is known from Canada!). This makes amassing a large fossil dataset to study dinosaur extinction in their last few million years tough north of the border. The vast exposures of the Hell Creek Formation in North Dakota and Montana, which are rich in fossils, are the best natural laboratory for studying an extinction event that changed world.