Dr. Potter Chamney, a palaeontologist, headed a committee to find a new park location. The decision was made to use the Zoo parking lot on the north side of the Bow River between Memorial Drive and the river west of the main entrance. The new Park design was based upon the Mesozoic Era from 225 to 65 million years ago. Numerous examples of dinosaurs from Alberta which existed 75 to 65 million years ago were considered.
In the 1970s, the materials used to build the models were switched to fiberglass. The models were arranged differently too; by habitat not by putting the models in chronological order. The vision of organizing by habitat was linked to a flowing water system that included: Mountains, a Volcano, Swampland, Hoodoos, Canadian Shield, and Shallow Sea. The challenge and expense of building mountains in Calgary and landscaping them with plants and vegetation that could survive chinooks, blizzards, and droughts, was met with a ‘can-do’ attitude and financial support from the oil industry as a gift on the City of Calgary’s Centenary (1883-1983).
However, problems arose with construction and finances. The plan to use inexpensive soil cement proved unworkable due to it cracking from cold exposure. Gunnite, a more suitable choice, was twice the price. Although the energy industry agreed to pay the extra cost, the price of oil fell from $50 to less than $20. The City of Calgary stepped in and made it happen by accessing Provincial grants. The Federal Government, an enthusiastic community, and The Devonian Foundation, all pitched in with funding to purchase some of the models for the Zoo. When the oil price recovered, oil company owners fulfilled their promise and delivered the donations. The Prehistoric Park opened in 1984 to much acclaim.