The Real Velociraptor

Aside from Tyrannosaurus, the small Mongolian dromaeosaur Velociraptor has probably achieved the most fame and notoriety among the general public. We’re all familiar with its frequent brushes with movie stardom within the past twenty years, although usually still playing second fiddle to Tyrannosaurus. It’s important to remember, however, that Velociraptor was a real animal, not just a movie monster created by Hollywood writers. The real animal, as near as we can tell, was actually a far cry from what most non-paleontologists imagine Velociraptor to be like. Let’s get to know this dinosaur a little better through the lens of science and illuminate the facts around it.

Velociraptor was described in 1924 by the notorious autocrat of paleontology at the time, Henry Fairfield Osborne, based on a skull collected from Mongolia in the early 20’s. It had only been …


So What IS a Dinosaur, Then?

Is your favourite dinosaur the sail-backed Dimetrodon? Or is it one of the wonderful flying pterosaurs? Or maybe it’s one of those sea-going dinosaurs, perhaps a type of long-necked plesiosaur or a shark-like mosasaur? If you’d say any of these are your favourite dinosaur, I have sad news- these creatures, though wonderful in their own right, are not dinosaurs.

Hopefully I didn’t lose any paleontology specialists there.

Instead of the usual thing where we go through the list and name off famous fossil creatures that are not dinosaurs, I’m going to illuminate what scientists mean by the word ‘dinosaur’. Casual dialogue, especially in the media, tends to use ‘dinosaur’ to mean any (usually big and ferocious) extinct animal. This implies as well that dinosaurs, by definition, can’t still be alive (and preferably not small and timid). However, the word …


Fossil Predators of the Wapiti Formation

The late Cretaceous rock unit exposed throughout much of northwestern Alberta is known as the Wapiti Formation, named by George Dawson for the river along which many of its outcroppings can be found. The Wapiti Formation overlaps in age with other rock units from the southern parts of the province, namely the Dinosaur Park, Bearpaw, and Horseshoe Canyon Formations. However, while these southern formations have been extensively researched for over a hundred years, the Wapiti Formation has been largely ignored by professionals until fairly recently. Lacking vast swaths of badlands where fossils can be found with relative ease, Alberta’s northwest is mostly covered by dense forests and farmlands, which means getting to exposures and looking for fossils usually isn’t easy.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t fossils here worth looking for. Quite the opposite in fact- with many of …


The Dinosaur in the Details: Welcome, Murusraptor

Sometimes, even when we can perfectly describe the preserved anatomy of a fossil animal, we still don’t always know where it falls on the tree of life. This is certainly true for South America’s newest dinosaur, Murusraptor barrosaensis, a new megaraptorid meat-eating dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Patagonia, South America, described recently by museum namesake Philip Currie and his colleague Rodolfo Coria, who led the study.

Murusraptor would have been an intimidating beast 90 million years ago when it hunted the South American landscape. About 6.5 metres long with a long low skull filled with serrated teeth and large curved claws on three-fingered hands, Murusraptor was the top predator in South America in its day. With its recent description, it’s now also one of the best known species in its family, the Megaraptoridae. However, despite the name, …


9 awards in 9 months!

We have received our ninth award, after being open for only 9 months! Read more about the Prairie Design Award for Excellence below!

 

DINO MUSEUM WINS 2016 PRAIRIE DESIGN AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE.
Setting an unprecedented incredible 9 Awards in 9 months, the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum has notched up a formidable array of endorsements!  The 2016 awards were hosted and organized by the Saskatchewan Association of Architects jointly with the Professional Associations of Alberta and Manitoba, and were announced on June 3rd at the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan jointly with the professional Architects Associations of Manitoba and Alberta. One hundred and one submissions were received in four categories: Recent Work, Small Projects, Landscape Architecture, and Interior Design. Of the projects selected, four received the Award of Excellence.

 

“Of course, we are thrilled …


We are the seventh biggest Museum Opening of the year!

According to Condé Nast Travelerm well known traveling and lifestyle blog, the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum (us!) ranks as the seventh largest museum opening of the year for 2015. We are now officially ranked amongst world-class heavyweights such as the Shanghai Museum of Natural History and the Singapore National Gallery. This reinforces the fact that wherever you’re located, be it a small town or a buzzing industrial city, content is key; we are intimately tied to our rural setting, providing an experience unrivaled in the entire world.

Check out what other institutions made the list! Here’s the link to it:

http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2016-05-11/10-biggest-museum-openings-of-the-year/7…


The Art of the Meal

I am excited to announce this week the publication of a scientific paper that I have been working on. The paper is quantitative in nature, so it does not contain any new fossils to report. However, it does report, I think, some important results relating to the extinction of dinosaurs and the survival of birds at the end of the Cretaceous.…


What Big Claws You Have: Northern Alberta Welcomes New Raptor Dinosaur

There is a new raptor dinosaur (dromaeosaur) in town. Boreonykus certekorum (meaning “Certek’s northern claw”) is the newest dinosaur named from the Peace Region. Recently described by former Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum palaeontologist Phil Bell and our namesake Philip Currie, this new species hails from the Pipestone Creek bonebed that features prominently in the galleries here at the museum.

For those of you unfamiliar with our museum, the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum is situated near the Pipestone Creek bonebed, one of the densest dinosaur fossil sites in the world. The site is a monodominant bonebed of the horned dinosaur Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai. But even though remains of Pachyrhinosaurus dominate the site, it’s not the only dinosaur remains we find there. With the description of Boreonykus, the first identifiable meat-eating dinosaur found from the area, the number of


Eggs-cellent News: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies Populate Museum

If there is one thing that I am really happy about in terms of how dinosaurs are portrayed in modern popular media, it’s that the public’s perception of dinosaurs as lumbering, uncaring beasts has largely given way to the idea that dinosaurs were intelligent, interesting animals with fascinating behaviours, behaviours that scientists are actively piecing together. However, I think most people, when they think of dinosaurs, usually still think about them as fully-grown animals. Few people think about different kinds of dinosaur eggs and nests, or what we actually know about baby dinosaurs or how dinosaurs grew. Fewer people still seem to know that baby dinosaurs also differed in proportion to adult dinosaurs and also often lacked the horns, hooks, and crests of their adult counterparts.

It’s this aspect of dinosaur palaeobiology, the hatchlings and the dinosaur eggs from which …


A New Blogosaur and a New Face at the Museum

Hello. Welcome to the Blogosaur, the official blog of the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, northern Alberta’s newest palaeontological museum. Posting on the Blogosaur has slowed recently, but I have now taken up the mantle of posting material here, and …



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