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.

The museum will be hosting a symposium of dinosaur mini-lectures, An Afternoon of Palaeontology, on Saturday, November 18, 2017. Speakers at the event and their topics are briefly outlined below. See the event listing for a detailed itinerary of the event.

Upcoming Lectures

Eva Koppelhus


University of Alberta

(Lecture title TBA)

Saturday, November 18 • 1:10pm • Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Aykroyd Family Theatre

Lecture abstract forthcoming.

Rebekah Vice


University of Alberta

A Gap in Horned Dinosaur Research

The Importance of Postcranial Anatomy in Pachyrhinosaurus

Saturday, November 18 • 1:30pm • Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Aykroyd Family Theatre

In ceratopsian (horned dinosaur) research a common approach is to focus on the anatomy of the skull, where distinctive features useful in identifying species are concentrated. This has left a huge gap in ceratopsian research, in that the rest of the skeleton (the postcranium) receives very little attention and is rarely described in detail. The ceratopsian, Pachyrhinosaurus, is an excellent candidate for such a description due to the abundance of material collected from the Pipestone Creek quarry near Wembley, Alberta, a sample that includes examples of nearly every bone in the skeleton and represents individuals at varying stages of growth. Ongoing work on Pachyrhinosaurus will not only provide a reference point for future comparisons of postcranial anatomy among ceratopsians, but also potentially allow for inferences regarding forelimb posture and therefore the gait of the animal.

Derek Larson


Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum

(Lecture title TBA)

Saturday, November 18 • 2:05pm • Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Aykroyd Family Theatre

Lecture abstract forthcoming.

Rich McCrea


Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre

Recent Discoveries of Fossil Vertebrates from Northeastern British Columbia

Saturday, November 18 • 2:25pm • Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Aykroyd Family Theatre

Lecture abstract forthcoming.

Matt Vavrek


Grande Prairie Regional College

(Lecture title TBA)

Saturday, November 18 • 2:45pm • Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Aykroyd Family Theatre

Lecture abstract forthcoming.

Corwin Sullivan


University of Alberta

Exploring the Cretaceous in the Grande Prairie Region

Saturday, November 18 • 3:20pm • Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Aykroyd Family Theatre

The Grande Prairie area has been known for decades as a rich source of dinosaur remains and other Cretaceous vertebrate fossils. Until recently, palaeontologists focused mainly on a few key localities, notably including Kleskun Hill, the Pipestone and Wapiti River horned dinosaur bonebeds, and Red Willow Falls. However, renewed prospecting in the past several years has identified a number of additional promising sites. Bones of small dinosaurs, other reptiles, and fish from the most important of these new sites, the “DC Bonebed”, are proving especially helpful in filling in the picture of vertebrate life in northern Alberta during the Late Cretaceous.

Lisa Buckley


Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre

Tracking Cretaceous Birds in Western Canada

History and New Discoveries

Saturday, November 18 • 3:40pm • Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Aykroyd Family Theatre

Bird fossils are not common due to the fragile nature of their skeletons. With the exception of the exquisitely preserved bird skeletons of the Early Cretaceous of China, one of the better fossil record of Cretaceous birds worldwide is of their footprints. The continually growing record of fossil bird tracks from the Cretaceous of western Canada shows us the diversity of the birds that lived alongside the dinosaurs. The second ever known bird track from the Cretaceous Period, Aquatilavipes swiboldae, was discovered from the Peace River Canyon near Hudson’s Hope, British Columbia and named in 1981. Since its discovery, three bird track types have been named from western Canada, and many more bird track sites have been discovered. These track sites in British Columbia and Alberta range in 140 million years to 72 million years ago, and show that birds with feet similar to those of sandpipers, plovers, small herons, and cranes were present during the Cretaceous Period. As more attention is given to small traces of the Cretaceous Period in western Canada, it is likely more bird track sites, and new bird track types, will be discovered.

Philip Currie


University of Alberta

(Lecture title TBA)

Saturday, November 18 • 4:50pm • Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Aykroyd Family Theatre

More than a century ago, a field crew of the American Museum of Natural History collected in what is now Dinosaur Provincial Park the skull of what became the holotype of Dromaeosaurus albertensis. Sues described Saurornitholestes langstoni as a second dromaeosaurid from Alberta in 1978, although by this time two other species (Deinonychus antirrhopus, Velociraptor mongoliensis) from this family had been recognized from Montana and Mongolia. Even though it was described more than fifty years after Dromaeosaurus, isolated teeth and bones quickly showed that Saurornitholestes was a much more common dinosaur than Dromaeosaurus in Alberta. Four partial skeletons of Saurornitholestes were collected between 1978 and 2014, although almost none of the new material was cranial. The lack of diagnostic cranial bones has been problematic, and Saurornitholestes has taken many different positions in recent phylogenetic analyses. Finally in 2014, an almost complete skull and postcranial skeleton was collected from Dinosaur Provincial Park. The skull is shorter, wider and deeper than Velociraptor from Mongolia, but like the latter genus the new specimen includes a furcula, an ossified sternum, sternal ribs, uncinate processes and an enlarged raptorial pedal ungual II-3. Uniquely amongst dromaeosaurids, Saurornitholestes has pneumatic nasal bones. The teeth are well-preserved and show that Zapsalis abradens – a mysterious theropod known only from teeth since it was described by Cope in 1876 – can also be identified as a dromaeosaurid. The probable cause of death of the UofA Saurornitholestes specimen has been determined as choking, and intestinal contents are being analyzed.

Previous Lectures

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. Nicolas Campione


University of Uppsala, Sweden

Weighing Giants

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.

Yara Haridy


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.

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.

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.

Please email visitorservices@dinomuseum.ca or call 587-771-0662 to reserve your spot.

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