Cock-a-doodle-doo

I’ve finally got the time and gumption to sit down and write again, so let’s do some research blogging! And let’s show some skin while we’re at it!

The first paper I’ll talk about is not one that I’m lead author on, but which was a really fun project to be involved in. This was the description of a super cool specimen of a hadrosaur from the area around Grande Prairie with some impressive skin impressions. UALVP 53722 was collected as a large block that had fallen along the creekside. Unfortunately, the rest of the skeleton could not be located, which might mean it’s still in situ somewhere with nothing visible, or it had already broken apart into unrecognizable pieces. The block preserves the back of the skull with the neck arched over the shoulders, the classic ‘death pose’ seen in many dinosaur skeletons. Most of the skull is missing, but what is present shows that it is an Edmontosaurus¬†regalis, the slightly older species of Edmontosaurus.¬†

Flat-headed Edmontosaurus at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

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Hugo’s Boss

I almost forgot to mention a fun bit of news coverage that happened during our Grande Prairie fieldwork. The first Pachyrhinosaurus skull to be prepared from the Wapiti River bonebed was nicknamed Hugo (for I hope obvious reasons…). It is on loan to the Grande Prairie Regional College for the next few months and is on display in a case beside their bookstore. The Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune did a nice little piece on the new display and features a completely awesome photo of Phil Currie and prep technician Susan Kagan.

Susan has been pummeling her way through the hard ironstone nodules that enclose the Wapiti River skulls – here is a photo from last fall of progress on the next skull to be prepared. It’s come a long way since then, but it takes a long time to get these guys ready.

Grande Prairie Regional College also has a full skeletal mount of Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai, the species known from the Pipestone Creek bonebed.

Ok, that should actually be the end of Pachyrhinosaurus updates for the next little while…

Pipestone Creek Bonebed

The area around Grande Prairie is rich with dinosaur fossils, although the setting is somewhat different than you might expect if you’re used to working in badlands like Dinosaur Provincial Park. In Grande Prairie, the only badlands outcrops are the Kleskun Hills, and most other sites are found along creeks and river valleys. I spent the bulk of my time at the Wapiti River bonebed, but helped out a little bit at the concurrent excavation at Pipestone Creek. Continue reading

River of Death gets a name change.

I haven’t talked a whole lot here about the Pipestone Creek Dinosaur Initiative or the proposed River of Death and Discovery Museum. The area around Grande Prairie, Alberta, about a five hour drive northwest of Edmonton, is rich in Late Cretaceous fossils. The most famous locality is Pipestone Creek, where hundreds of the horned dinosaur¬†Pachyrhinosaurus perished millions of years ago.

For nearly ten years, a dedicated group of folks in Grande Prairie have been trying to get their own palaeontology museum off the ground. The working name for the museum was the River of Death and Discovery Dinosaur Museum. However, the word ‘death’ in the museum name has made it difficult for the museum to get as many sponsors as they would have liked.

And so it was announced yesterday that the museum would be renamed to the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum! You can read more about the name change at the Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune’s article.

There are some exciting things coming up this summer for the museum foundation, including the Akroyd Family and Friends Dinosaur Ball (yes, those Akroyds!), and the University of Alberta will return to our annual excavations at the Wapiti River Pachyrhinosaurus bonebed and the newly-reopened Pipestone Creek bonebed.

A helicopter approaches at the Wapiti River bonebed during the 2009 excavation. Helicopter lifts are the only way the large blocks can be brought up to the edge of the river valley.