Perhaps it’s the fact that I am obsessed with palaeontology, or perhaps it’s because I worked there, I think that the Badlands of Alberta are one of the most stunning landscapes on Earth. The history lying just beneath the rock is unimaginably complex and palaeontologists still struggle to answer the simplest questions. How many species have lived on Earth? How did life begin?
My fascination with the badlands is the endless pursuit of fossils. Originally I spent most of my time in the Drumheller area but came to realize that there really weren’t that many fossils in the area. Unfortunately the reason is that Drumheller is a major tourist hotspot, so between visitors looking to bring a souvenir home (which is illegal by the way, you can read more about that here: http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/Acts/h09.pdf), and the local townspeople, the best sites have been plundered or destroyed. It’s actually pretty heartbreaking, and if you happen to visit the valley and any local fossil shops tell you that they are selling local fossils, I implore you to turn and leave because it means one of two things:
A) they are selling local fossils illegally
B) they are lying to try and make a buck
If you want to go out looking for fossils for fun, and maybe even to try and help the Royal Tyrrell Museum discover the next big find, you will need to know what you are looking for. It’s pretty simple actually, there are basically three things to look for when trying to tell the difference between a rock and a fossil bone (although technically fossils are rocks, but not all rocks are fossils).