Ask a Palaeo!

How long does it take to dig up a dinosaur bone?
By Dr. Matthew Vavrek

The length of time it takes to dig up a dinosaur depends on so many things, and can vary from a few days to decades. For smaller skeletons in soft sediments, the skeleton can often be taken out in just a couple of weeks. However, some dinosaurs are much harder to excavate. For example, Cryolophosaurus, a dinosaur from Antarctica, was first found in 1991, and scientists are still returning to continue digging out the only known skeleton.

It is taking so long because the area is so hard to access and is often too cold to get to, and the fossils themselves are in rocks that are harder than concrete. Also, digging up a dinosaur is only the first step. After the dinosaur is dug …

Thanks Saddle Hills County!

Saddle Hills County presented a cheque for $150,000 to the County of Grande Prairie No. 1 for the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum on September 2, 2014, at the museum site. Saddle Hills is sponsoring the Palaeontology Research Centre (PRC) in the museum. The PRC will be the hub for year-round, ongoing research for the in-house palaeontologists and the base of operations for those visiting from other institutions around the world. Left to right, Ross Sutherland, Chair, River of Death and Discovery Dinosaur Museum Society, Reeve Alvin Hubert, Saddle Hills County and Reeve Leanne Beaupre, County of Grande Prairie No. 1.…

Amber Weekend!

The Amber Weekend is over and it was an incredible time, start to finish. From the Keys to the Region Ceremony on Thursday, August 7th to the Mighty Peace Harley-Davidson Aykroyd Family Ride on August 9th to the Amber Ball later that evening, thousands of people were involved. There was incredible generosity displayed by our sponsors and by the hundreds of volunteers involved. We really can’t thank you enough! Here are a few pictures from the festivities. If you’d like to see more, there are hundreds on our Facebook page!

Municipal leaders from around the Peace Country held a Keys to the Region ceremony for Dan Aykroyd, Donna Dixon Aykroyd and their daughters at Grande Prairie City Hall on August 7, 2014 to honour their contributions to the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum project. Dr. Philip Currie was the …

Dino of the Month: Mercuriceratops!

Mercuriceratops is a new species of horned dinosaur that was described last month by a team from Canada and the USA, including Dr. Philip Currie. The dinosaur itself is found both in Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta and along the Missouri River in Montana. In each locality a squamosal was found, one of the bones of the head. This bone was so distinctively different from those of all other horned dinosaurs however, that it was determined to be a new animal. This find further underscores the incredible diversity of dinosaurs found in the fossil record.

Ancient life from the Peace River

By Dr. Matthew Vavrek

During the summer of 2012, I spent five days floating down the Peace River with former Currie Museum palaeontologist Dr. Phil Bell and two graduate students from McGill University by the names of Trina Du and Ben Wilhelm. Although the Grande Prairie area is becoming well known for a whole host of dinosaurs and other extinct creatures, the animals that lived where the Peace River now flows were much older.

Near Grande Prairie, the exposed rocks are part of the Wapiti Formation, a unit of rocks that ranges from 80 to 69 million years old, while along the Peace River the exposed rocks are mostly from the Dunvegan Formation, and are about 94 million years old. In fact, the rocks along the Peace River contain some of the oldest dinosaurs from Alberta, and as such can …

Dino of the Month: Sinoceratops

Sinoceratops is a large ceratopsian (horned) dinosaur from China. It is unique in being the only confirmed ceratopsid (advanced ceratopsian) from Asia. Although Asia has produced many primitive ceratopsians like Protoceratops and Psittacosaurus, advanced members of the group like Pachyrhinosaurus and Triceratops were only known from North America. It has large forward-curling spikes along the edge of its frill, and a single large horn above its nose.…

Life in Miniature: Vertebrate microsites

By Matthew Vavrek

Although the Cretaceous Period was a period of time best known for its multitude of giant dinosaurs, there were still plenty of other, much smaller animals living at the same time. However, these smaller animals present a problem for many palaeontologists because they are so small. A big dinosaur, with large, robust bones is much more likely to become a fossil than a small animal with much more delicate bones. However, sometimes palaeontologists stumble across a treasure trove of small fossils that they call a microsite. These microsites are areas, usually only a few square metres, where there is a large concentration of very small fossils. The fossils found in these areas are often the size of your fingernail or smaller, yet they can contain an enormous wealth of information about ancient, extinct ecosystems.

You rarely find …

May Construction Update!

By Karla Horcica, PCL Construction

1stomped_0265The concrete, steel, and wood structure of the building is now complete.

Crews continue to work on the roof and walls to make the building weather-tight, but at least now they get to work in warmer weather and sunshine! Meanwhile, inside the building, the walls are being laid out and steel stud framing of the walls is underway.

Along with the starting of the walls comes the rough-in of all the mechanical and electrical piping and conduit. While some of the pipes and conduits are put into the concrete slabs, a large portion is also run through the walls and ceilings.

1stomped_02931stomped_0247First the drywaller will lay out the walls and put down the bottom tracks, then the steel studs will be stood. The mechanical and electrical trades run their pipes and conduits through the steel …

Ask A Paleo! Where in the world are dinosaurs from?

By Robin Sissons

Dinosaur fossils are found everywhere in the world, from one pole to the other, on every continent, even on a the small Chatham Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. From Cryolophosaurus and Antarctopelta in the Antarctic, to Pachyrhinosaurus and Nanuqsaurus in the Arctic, and everything in between, dinosaurs are found at all lattitudes. The island of Madagascar brings us Majungasaurus and Masiakasaurus, while Australia boasts Rapator and Muttaburrasaurus. Scores of species are described from China, Mongolia and Japan, while Spinosaurus is commonly found in Egypt, and the first of any described dinosaurs, Iguanodon, Megalosaurus, and Hylaeosaurus, were found in Europe.

South America has the unique long-nosed dromaeosaur group, the unenlagiines, including Austroraptor, while North America has been a treasure trove of dinosaur palaeontology for over a century, with such …

Dinosaur of the Month – Anzu wyliei!

By Robin Sissons

Anzu is a type of oviraptorosaur dinosaur which was recently described in March 2014 from fossils found in North and South Dakota. ‘Anzu’ is derived from Mesopotamian legends of a feathered demon of that name. Although it was found in 1998 and has been known for years, and even displayed in museums, it is only in this last month that it was named as a new species. It is the largest known oviraptorosaur from North America.…

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