A Day in the Life of Triceratops

Quick- picture everyone’s favourite horned dinosaur, Triceratops. More specifically, picture it alive, in its ecosystem, doing typical Triceratops things. Okay, how many people imagined this dinosaur engaged in mortal combat with its eternal nemesis, Tyrannosaurus? I don’t gamble, but if I did, I’d bet at least a few people imagined this. I find that when Triceratops is reconstructed in popular media doing more than just standing pretty to be admired, it’s usually doing one of two things: squaring off against the perpetual assault of T. rex (as in countless paintings, dioramas, exhibits, and films), or lying on the ground dead or dying. While I understand the appeal of the dramatic showdown between the last giant carnivore and horn-face of the Cretaceous, I think history has done a disservice to this dinosaur. It was more than just Tyrannosaurus chow

What’s the Biggest Dinosaur?

The mystery of the biggest dinosaur is one that, surprisingly, doesn’t concern most palaeontologists. That might seem unusual. What’s the point of these gigantic animals if we don’t figure out, first and foremost, which one was the biggest of them all?

It would be hard to deny that no one, palaeontologist or layperson, is completely unimpressed with the biggest dinosaurs known to science. Getting a sense of how big some of the true giants were reawakens that sense of childhood wonder that we’re all born with, but only a lucky few ever keep. But palaeontologists don’t study dinosaurs simply because they’re big. There are dozens of experts out there who pin their careers on fossil animals ranging from the size of an eagle to the size of a sparrow.

It’s the thrill of uncovering another fragment of a primordial world …

The Real Tyrannosaurus

With nearly every movie star in the world, the fans usually only see the glamourous side, their true nature only glimpsed by the privileged few lucky enough to dwell within the insular world they occupy. Once we see the truth of our celebrities, it’s often disappointing, and leaves us disillusioned. I think this is how many people feel when confronted with the unglamorous facts about the world’s most famous dinosaur.

Tyrannosaurus rex has always had to struggle to live up to its own hype. The beast was named by American Museum of Natural History paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborne (remember him from the Velociraptor article?) from material collected in Wyoming by Osborne’s right-hand-man, the legendary Barnum Brown. Osborne knew he had a prize on his hands- the largest carnivorous dinosaur known at the time- and Brown returned from further expeditions with …

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!


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:


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.…

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