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News: Dino Lab Grant to Phil Currie
From: Ben Creisler email@example.com
In case this news item has not been mentioned yet:
Grant helps top dinosaur expert develop advanced
palaeontology lab at U of A
Even before Jurassic Park, dinosaurs had been the
breadwinners of the palaeontological community, and one of
this year?s Tier One Canadian Research Chairs is no
The federal government, through the Canadian Research
Chair program, has given Dr Philip J Currie of the
University of Alberta $1.4 million over seven years to
study the prehistoric beasts. Currie, professor in the
Biological Sciences Department as of October of this year
and formerly of the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller,
couldn?t be happier.
"I?m very pleased that I was able to capture one of these
[Canadian Research Chairs], and the budgets that go with
it," said Currie. "It?s a pretty good indication that the
federal government ... is pretty serious about trying to
keep scientists in Canada and to improve what?s being done
in the country."
Canada?s foremost dinosaur expert, Currie is also one of
the most well-know palaeontologists in the world,
specializing in theropod (meat-eating) dinosaurs.
His popularity is evident in his schedule. Currently in
the midst of a European lecture tour, he has already
visited Sweden, Switzerland and Italy, and he plans to
visit Spain as well.
But no matter how far afield he travels, this world-
renowned palaeontologist has decided to come to the U of A
to set up shop permanently.
With his research money, Currie plans to build one of the
most advanced palaeontology laboratories in the world,
including equipment for CAT scanning and 3D imaging. With
the lab, he?ll be better able to study features of bones
and how they relate to other bones, allowing for a better
understanding of how dinosaurs lived, moved, and grew over
"I?ll have the opportunity to set up a lab to teach the
next generation of palaeontologists working on dinosaurs
the latest techniques," said Currie.
And for all the projects that he?s working on, he?ll need
a lab and a small team of students. Recently working on
everything from Mongolian dinosaurs to small theropod
dinosaurs to feathered dinosaurs, Currie has had to focus
his energy on particular fields.
"[I?ve been] working a lot this year on tyrannosaurs,
because with the 100th anniversary of Tyrannosaurus rex
and Albertosaurus [this year], I had a whole series of
papers I had to finish off on that," Currie said, adding
that he is currently writing a description of what could
be the largest T-rex ever found.
"The next step we?re going to go on this is starting to
look at the mechanics of the skull and how the skull
moves," he said. "If you don?t have some give in the
skull, then I think you have a much better chance of
breaking teeth and things like that, so there is
presumably a way that we can model this and test it and
see what kind of stresses are put on the jaws and the
teeth themselves and see if, in fact, all that [movement]
has something to do with solving the problem of breaking
But Dr Currie has not spent the entirety of his two months
here at the U of A designing his new lab, carefully
observing fossils, and writing an endless stream of
"We took out a bone [from the shores of the North
Saskatchewan river] the other day, the day we left for
Sweden, actually," said Currie. "But it looks like there
are more bones there, so we?ll have to see next year what
it leads to."