New exhibit reveals dinosaur discoveries

Discovering Dinosaurs tells the tale of Alberta's prehistoric past through the latest research by world-leading paleontologists.

(Edmonton) Few topics capture our collective imagination more than dinosaurs. And few places on Earth can match Alberta's wealth of dinosaur fossils. Now, an exhibition of discoveries by University of Alberta researchers is shedding new light on the province's prehistoric past.

Discovering Dinosaurs reveals the story of Alberta as it existed some 65 million years ago, in the late Cretaceous Period when the three-horned Triceratops, the armour-plated Ankylosaurus and the fearsome T. Rex ruled the land, and the 18-metre-long Mosasaurus was the top predator of the seas.

"We are providing our community with the opportunity to meet the current generation of U of A researchers who are changing our understanding of dinosaurs and their lost world," says Janine Andrews, executive director of U of A Museums. "People can see more than 250 jaw-dropping specimens in one location-most of which have never before been publicly exhibited."

Revealing the research behind the bones

The exhibit draws on the U of A's pre-eminent dinosaur research program and collections, led by the world-renowned Philip Currie, Canada Research Chair in Dinosaur Paleobiology and curator of dinosaurs at the U of A.

"Few people are aware of how many exciting dinosaur discoveries are made in the field and the laboratory in Alberta every year," Currie says. "The province is a vibrant hub of international dinosaur research, and the U of A is at the core of the hub."

Currie notes that although most paleontologists prefer to study the real skeletons, their studies encompass everything from microscopic sections of bones to full skeletons, as well as indirect techniques like computer modelling to better understand how dinosaurs moved.

"These are exciting times indeed for paleontologists."

In addition to the exhibition, Discovering Dinosaurs features presentations by Currie along with a series of speakers including Michael Caldwell, mosasaur expert and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at the U of A; Clive Coy, chief technician and fossil preparator in the university's Laboratory for Vertebrate Paleontology, and recent and current PhD students Victoria Arbour and Scott Persons, who are both releasing research results this fall.

"It's a thrill to have our recent discoveries highlighted," says Persons, a PhD candidate working on evolutionary arms races among dinosaurs. "This gives people a chance to get to know Alberta dinosaurs on an intimate level, to learn about them like real animals, not just a monster parade.

"Some of our discoveries won't even be published in the scientific journals until late October, so the exhibition really is on the cutting edge of dinosaur science."

The exhibition also features curriculum-based programs for K-12 schools, family activities and a film screening at the Metro Cinema.

Discovering Dinosaurs runs Sept. 18 until Jan. 31, 2015, at the U of A Museums' Enterprise Square Galleries (10230 Jasper Ave).

Get a sneak peek of Discovering Dinosaurs