Learn more about dinosaurs, palaeontology, the world around us, and many other fascinating topics straight from the experts with our monthly free lecture series! Upcoming speakers are listed with their topic and lecture description below.
DR. GLENN DOLPHIN
University of Calgary
Ussher, and Hutton, and Wegener, oh my!
Using the history of geology to teach both geological content and the nature of science in a large introductory undergraduate geology course
Saturday, October 14 • 3:00pm • Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Aykroyd Family Theatre
The coming decades will showcase the importance of literacy in the geosciences for citizens of the world. Problems such as anthropogenic climate change, safe drinking water, and finding and developing mineral and energy resources will not only require geoscience professionals, but also an informed citizenry for developing, and implementing appropriate policies that will benefit society as a whole. Literacy in the geosciences includes not just the content (the ‘what’ of geoscience) but also the process (the ‘how’ of geoscience).
This presentation will give preliminary results of students’ understandings of the nature of geology from the beginning of the course to the end of the course having experienced pedagogical strategies emplaced to disrupt the normal “large lecture” course structure. The use of interrupted historical narratives became the focal point of the course inquiry and discussion. With emphasis placed on the “how” as opposed to the “what” of science, students became more critical and demonstrated a more nuanced understanding for science as a process.
DR. PHIL BELL
University of New England, Australia
Dinosaurs from the opal mines of Outback Australia
Saturday, July 29 • 4pm • Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Aykroyd Family Theatre
Black opal, one of the rarest gemstones on Earth, is mined almost exclusively from the outback town of Lightning Ridge in Australia. With mining also comes dinosaurs, and other Cretaceous animals and plants all preserved in opal, often in a kaleidoscope of colour not seen anywhere else on the planet. These fossils frequently undergo rough treatment as a result of the mining process, yet they reveal unique glimpses into prehistoric Australia.
AARON VAN DER REEST
University of Alberta
From Bones to Tissue
Bringing Palaeontology into the Future
Wednesday, August 2 • 7pm • Grande Prairie Regional College, Room D208
Although traditional vertebrate palaeontology, studying the fossilized hard parts such as bones and teeth, has given us an understanding of life on earth before human evolution, it can only tell us so much about extinct organisms. We can grasp some insight into what these looked like, how they moved, what they may have eaten, their potential behaviour, and other aspects of their lives. Even though hard parts can tell us a lot about extinct organisms, palaeontologist are now turning to recently discovered specimens that preserve soft tissues to better understand extinct organisms and how they evolved. In doing so, researchers have developed a new branch of palaeontology; biomolecular palaeontology. In biomolecular palaeontology. what we have already learned, and what is theoretically possible to discover, is starting to merge into a new and truly remarkable, futuristic, line of fossil vertebrate research.
DR. CORWIN SULLIVAN
University of Alberta
Dragons of the Mesozoic
Dinosaurs and their Relatives in the Chinese Fossil Record
Wednesday, August 2 • 8pm • Grande Prairie Regional College, Room D208
China boasts a rich and varied record of fossil vertebrates from the Mesozoic Era of Earth’s history (about 250 – 65 million years ago; divided into the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods), when dinosaurs flourished. Much of this record has only come to light in recent decades, and the pace of discovery continues to be rapid. No Triassic dinosaurs are known from China at present, but Chinese Triassic rocks have produced some intriguing reptiles closely related to Dinosauria. Jurassic and Cretaceous dinosaurs occur in many parts of China, and lake deposits in northeastern China preserve a unique, globally significant assemblage of feathered dinosaurs closely related to birds. Some Chinese dinosaur faunas are similar in age, but strikingly different in composition, to those from northern and southern Alberta.
DR. NICOLÀS CAMPIONE
University of Uppsala, Sweden
100 years of estimating body masses in dinosaurs
Saturday, August 12 • 3pm • Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Aykroyd Family Theatre
Dinosaurs are famous for their size. With body masses possibly reaching above 50 metric tonnes, a weight that has not since been matched by any land animal, it is no wonder that dinosaurs have sparked our imaginations. But what do we actually know about their size? How do we know how heavy they were? Why did they get so big? And was this a factor in the extinction of the non-bird dinosaurs? These questions may seem simple, but trying to figure them out keeps many of us up at night.
DR. FEDERICO FANTI
University of Bologna, Italy
Dinosaurs from the Viper Canyon
Saturday, August 12 • 4pm • Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Aykroyd Family Theatre
In the last century, the extraordinary fossils recovered from the Gobi Desert of Mongolia have provided unique insights into dinosaur evolution, fascinated entire generations and earned countless front pages. Unfortunately, the same fossils have also sparked an explosion of illegal fossil poaching in the country, which are now being sold in an international multi-million dollar black market and at public auction houses. Is there a way to combine palaeontology, chemistry, geology, and a drone to promote science and fight illegal activities? Come and see.
University of Toronto
From the Outside In
What Permian caves teach us about teeth
Wednesday, August 16 • 7pm • Grande Prairie Regional College, Room D208
The large predatory Dimetrodon often characterizes the Early Permian, while a big predator is charismatic, it is important to know that a food web relies on many small animals. The Richard spur is a locality is like no other, the intricate cave systems acted as natural traps and have preserved a variety of small taxa, giving us a more accurate picture of the faunal assemblage of the upland environment early Permian of Oklahoma. The exceptional preservation has allowed for the study of the interrelationships between many of the endemic taxa, as well as the study of their dentition on a cellular level. Histology has allowed us to understand some of the dental adaptations of these taxa, from hypercarnivore to the first herbivores, we can know a lot about an animal from its teeth.
DR. XU XING
Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology, Beijing, China
Searching for the Dinosaurian Ancestors of Birds
Wednesday, August 16 • 8pm • Grande Prairie Regional College, Room D208
Our understanding of the transition to birds has improved greatly over the last two decades. It is now clear that birds evolved from among the theropods, a group of mainly carnivorous dinosaurs. The recent advances in the field of bird origins have been made partly by addressing several issues that are sometimes considered to raise problems for the theropod hypothesis, including anatomical differences separating birds from typical theropods and the apparent improbability of feathers and flight evolving in a dinosaur. In this talk, I will briefly discuss some fieldwork in China aimed at sampling the fossil record of the dinosaur-bird transition, review recent progress on resolving the anatomical discrepancies and understanding the evolution of feathers and flight, highlight some remaining problems in reconstructing the transition, and finally provide suggestions for future research in this area.
DR. JASON DONEV
University of Calgary
How science fiction has influenced science and society
Saturday, September 9 • 3pm • Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Aykroyd Family Theatre
Science fiction has predicted many technological advances, and helps people process our rapidly changing technological world. These stories have a profound influence on the way we see our world. Science fiction has been an important part of how we process science and shapes how we view science.
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