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Natural History

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The lush vegetation and warm climate of Alberta was perfect for dinosaurs, who roamed the earth from about 220 to 65 million years ago. When a mass disturbance, probably resulting from asteroid strikes, led to the extinction of dinosaurs, mammals began to become the dominant class.

The Rocky Mountains were formed by geological forces at about the same time as the extinction of the dinosaurs. Enormous pressure caused by plates piling up against the North America continent led to a rising of land. The rising land eventually broke, forming faults, and massive blocks of rock moved northeastward and continued to rise, forming mountains.

Glaciers sporadically covered the landscape of Alberta throughout its history. The last ice age occurred just over 10,000 years ago, and the grinding, erosive force of the glacier as it moved over Alberta shaped the landscape to what it looks like today. The exposed bedrock that is common throughout the Canadian Shield Natural Region occurs as a result of the glaciers eroding away all sediment, leaving only highly-polished and grooved rock surfaces, and most of Alberta's badlands were cut into shape by massive rivers emanating from the glacier as it melted.

The sediment left during the glacial retreat formed the rich and productive soil that is the foundation of the plant and animal species that combine to form the Natural Regions of Alberta.

Find out more about glaciers! Chill out in ice age Alberta at the Alberta: How the West Was Young and Alberta, Naturally websites!

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