Royal Alberta Museum
visitors since 1967

Quaternary Palaeontology

Quaternary Palaeontology is the study of fossil organisms that lived during the last 2.6 million years, a block of time that is conventionally divided into the Pleistocene Epoch (the "Ice Age") and the Holocene Epoch, or postglacial period (the last 10,000 years). The Royal Alberta Museum's program, begun in 1983, deals with the record of Quaternary vertebrates from Alberta and other areas of western North America. The majority of Ice Age fossils from Alberta are less than 50,000 years old, conveniently placing them within the range of radiocarbon dating, the major tool used to determine the timing and sequence of glacial and biological events of the late Quaternary. In Alberta, the most recent advance of glacial ice occurred between 22,000 and 10,000 years ago, and likely obliterated much of the earlier Ice Age fossil record. On-going field and laboratory research taking place at the museum continues to help refine our understanding of the Quaternary history of Alberta and western North America.