I Know Dino Podcast: Tarbosaurus (Episode 4)

In our fourth episode of I Know Dino, we had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Phil Currie, a famend paleontologist who has contributed a lot to paleontology that there’s even a museum named after him. Dr. Currie can also be a professor on the College of Alberta, the place he teaches the net course Dino 101, which matches over dinosaur appearances and main teams, how fossils are shaped and interpreted, how dinosaurs lived, dinosaur origins, and dinosaur extinction, and extra.

Dr. Currie has named 25 new dinosaurs and had three named in his honor. He’s additionally well-known for a centrosaurus bonebed, hadrosaur nesting websites, and the Canada-China Dinosaur Mission, and he has written quite a few books.

He began working on the Royal Alberta Museum in 1976, then often known as the Provincial Museum of Alberta, and located so many dinosaur bones the museum ran out of space for storing. In 1979 he wrote the proposal for what’s now the Tyrell Museum, which showcases Alberta’s dinosaurs and has lab services, a research middle, and large space for storing. In 2005 he took up the Canada Analysis Chair on the College of Alberta so he may spend extra time within the discipline.

So after all, we have been very honored to have the ability to interview him.

You possibly can hearken to our free podcast, with all our episodes, on iTunes at:


On this episode, we talk about:

  • The dinosaur of the day: Tarbosaurus, which implies “Alarming Lizard.”
  • Tarbosaurus lived in Asia in the course of the late Cretaceous, about 70 million years in the past, and weighed as much as 5 tons, was 33-39 ft lengthy, and had 60 tooth (not fairly as huge as T-rex).
  • Like T-rexTarbosaurus had small forearms, and in reality had the smallest forearms of all tyrannosaurs.
  • Tarbosaurus lived within the Gobi Desert, in southern Mongolia.
  • It was massive however had a light-weight skeleton.
  • Tarbosaurus is extra historical than T-rex, which suggests the genus began in Asia and moved to North America by way of a land bridge that related the 2 continents.
  • Enjoyable Truth: Most dinosaurs have been herbivores, however the first dinosaurs have been carnivores.

See under for the total transcript of our interview with Dr. Phil Currie:

Sabrina: First how did you turn out to be all for Paleontology?

Philip Currie: That’s an fascinating story as a result of truly I used to be a kind of children who appreciated dinosaurs from the time after I was six years previous. And to me it was a field of cereal with a plastic dinosaur in it; that received me hooked. However by the point I used to be eleven I’d learn a ebook referred to as All About Dinosaurs by Roy Chapman Andrews. Andrews ebook was actually about what it was prefer to be a Paleontologist or a scientist within the discipline, and the day I learn the ebook was the day I made a decision I used to be going to be a dinosaur paleontologist interval, full cease.

Sabrina: That’s nice, and I do know you’ve carried out discipline work in Alberta, Antarctica, the Arctic, Argentina, British Columbia, China, Mongolia. What brings you to these locations and what particularly do you search for at these websites?

Philip Currie: Normally it’s an invite that can take me to a unique place, however in some instances after all we need to work there. So for instance in Mongolia and China particularly within the Gobi Desert of each nations, the rocks are about the identical age because the rocks right here in Alberta, and the dinosaurs are very carefully associated to those in Alberta. The distinction is that the dinosaurs are preserved in a barely completely different means, so regardless that we’re wanting on the similar dinosaurs mainly they’re preserved otherwise and they also give completely different info. So for me to get details about Alberta dinosaurs I needed to go work within the Gobi Desert primarily to know what was occurring there so I may higher perceive what was occurring right here. And it’s been a really profitable program that means.

Sabrina: So what are a few of the variations in the way it’s preserved?

Philip Currie: Nicely for instance, in Alberta there’s an inclination for the massive animals to be very properly preserved, however the small animals are usually very spotty we’ll say. And the reason being after all you could have tyrannosaurs working round, and if tyrannosaurs discovered something in any respect, residing or useless, they’d eat it. And if you happen to occurred to be small there wasn’t a lot left. Secondly I believe that the surroundings was such that the rivers have been fairly sturdy, and they’d lower into the riverbanks and undercut skeletons and rework the bones and so forth, and if you happen to occurred to be a thick animal the place the bones are heavy they’ll simply fall to the underside of the stream and so they get buried there they’ll keep kind of in affiliation, however the small ones get busted up fairly badly by the river and get washed downstream. So it’s not that the bones aren’t there, simply that the skeletons aren’t there. In order that’s sort of a traditional preservation right here in Alberta, small dinosaurs have been very uncommon. And within the case of Mongolia it’s nearly the other. What occurs is that the surroundings was barely completely different. It was semi-arid to arid surroundings, fairly often the small specimens received buried within the sand dunes somewhat than the rivers, and as a consequence of that these skeletons have a tendency to remain collectively, so we needed to take a look at the, say the anatomy of dromaeosaurid right here in Alberta, dromaeosaurid embody velociraptor. We’ve by no means discovered a whole one in Alberta earlier than, however if you happen to go to Mongolia then after all you’ll be able to see a whole specimen of velociraptor, then you’ll be able to perceive what all of the skeletal bones appear like. And then you definitely come again to Alberta after which determine all these remoted bones that we’ve got that are very arduous to determine in any other case, by no means seen them earlier than.

Sabrina: Is Mongolia sort of the perfect place to go for you for excavation or is it your favourite?

Philip Currie: After Alberta, I imply Alberta is my favourite as a result of it’s my yard and I can go outdoors and I accumulate dinosaurs truly lower than ten kilometers from right here. Theoretically I ought to have the ability to discover them a couple of hundred meters from right here, however the actuality is that after we in contrast different areas Mongolia has a unique sort of preservation as I discussed, however you get a variety of huge skeletons preserved too. And the factor is you’ll be able to nearly exit daily in Mongolia and discover a new dinosaur skeleton. Right here it takes a bit extra time to try this. We’ve got extra bones total however skeletons, they’ve extra skeletons. So it’s an excellent stability.

Sabrina: So I learn the Dino Video games ebook, and properly simply shortly, it talked about your spouse Eva’s a paleobotanist and a paleontologist. So you’re employed very carefully collectively, and does she go on all of the digs with you and all the things?

Philip Currie: Eva will get to return on all of the digs with me which is implausible. It’s actually good to have a unique perspective once you’re taking a look at fossil sources as a result of you recognize within the actuality is we’re all for all fossils, regardless that I’ll specialise in theropod dinosaurs I do work on something that I discover primarily as a result of it’s all fascinating and it’s all helpful for anyone by way of making an attempt to determine perhaps the […](00:05:34) environments or the ecosystem or no matter. And in her case as a result of she works on fossil vegetation and pollen and spores, pollen and spores are excellent truly for figuring out the extent that these bones come from and what age they’re. And consequently she has a unique perspective, and that helps. The opposite good factor for me although is that it doesn’t take her very lengthy to gather her specimens, after which she has to assist me.

Sabrina: Your space of experience is theropods, origin of birds, dinosaur migration patterns and herding habits. What led you to concentrate on this stuff?

Philip Currie: Nicely I’m very all for kind of the biology of dinosaurs generally, and for the theropod dinosaurs it’s sort of a pure, you recognize the plastic dinosaur I actually needed after I was a child was tyrannosaurus rex and we get tyrannosaurus rex right here. So it’s one thing I can go and discover, but additionally the kin of tyrannosaurus rex. The origin of birds got here in sort of sideways as a result of I by no means thought I may ever say something concerning the origin of birds initially just because beds in Alberta are Cretaceous in age. They’re most likely thirty or forty million years after birds first appeared. In order that they’re too late in time actually one would suppose to inform you a lot concerning the origin of birds. However in actual fact it ended up taking a really fascinating twist as a result of a few of the small meat consuming dinosaurs right here, issues like troodon and dromaeosaurus, these are very birdlike in a variety of methods and after I was educated at College, predominant concepts have been that birds most likely didn’t come from dinosaurs. Birds most likely got here from crocodiles or thecodonts or perhaps another group. However the extra I checked out these meat consuming dinosaurs from the late Cretaceous the extra I noticed how chicken like they have been, together with to very very small particulars comparable to the location of nerves and holes within the cranium that you just wouldn’t anticipate until there was some sort of relationship. Additionally due to our work in China we had contacts there, and I ended up being invited to work on a number of of the species of feathered dinosaurs in China, and this has come round full circle now as a result of we’re discovering feathered dinosaurs right here in Alberta. Though they’re late Cretaceous in age, they’re theropod dinosaurs, and they’re very chicken like. And there’s lots we will find out about say the construction and evolution of feathers by taking a look at our late Cretaceous feathers as properly.

Sabrina: I additionally learn you labored with pc fashions to study extra about dinosaurs, and I do know it, I took the category Dino 101 and I noticed it had just a few interactive components which was actually cool. Do they assist to make clear dinosaur habits?

Philip Currie: Laptop modeling is the sort of factor that you just don’t anticipate dinosaur individuals to do, proper? However the fantastic thing about it’s that dinosaur bones fairly often are very heavy, they’re large, they’re fragile, they’re very arduous to deal with in your fingers so you’ll be able to’t manipulate issues all that simple. I imply it’s not like we don’t have methods to do it. We do we will forged them and switch them into mild plastic after which play with them that means. Nevertheless it’s lots simpler simply to scan specimens or CG scan specimens after which digitize them on a pc. After which we’ll have the ability to manipulate the bones. And fairly often it doesn’t inform you precisely what the dinosaur was doing with the say leg bones, however what it does provide you with is a variety of potentialities. So it exhibits how far they will stretch their legs for instance, or how far they might fold their legs up. After which that’ll provide you with some info and then you definitely work on the premise that someplace in between might be the truth. And when you do sufficient of this type of work issues begin to fall collectively and begin to constrain one another, every considered one of these fashions that we do, and consequently you do I believe find yourself with a reasonably reasonable concept of what the animals have been able to. Actually it’s a great way to do say limb fashions or biomechanics the place we’re taking a look at say how jaws closed and the way they chewed issues. However the CT scans and the pc modeling additionally assist us with inside anatomy so for instance the mind case of a dinosaur, we will CT scan a cranium. Doesn’t present the mind cavity itself, however from the CT scans we will then get the knowledge on the mind cavity after which we will see the place the nerves have been working and that helps us interpret how the animal was residing, how they have been interacting, what they have been able to and all these issues. So it’s fairly wonderful what pc modeling has carried out for paleontology over the past twenty years specifically, and as I mentioned it’s fairly often we will’t get a particular reply however we will method a lot nearer to actuality by doing the modeling.

Sabrina: So do you utilize this system lots now?

Philip Currie: Nicely I’m nonetheless an previous model paleontologist the place I choose to exit into the sector and accumulate issues. Do the preparation and do the outline. And I do some pc modeling and I work with pc fashions but it surely’s one thing that we’ve made positive that our college students perceive higher as a result of it’s changing into progressively extra vital for them to have the ability to try this. You recognize at this stage I might say there have been fairly just a few dinosaurs that we’ve got the digitized info on skeletons for, and naturally we will make that info out there for different researchers anyplace on the planet. However we nonetheless don’t have all the things out there and as time goes on and increasingly of those digitized skeletons turn out to be out there for individuals to work with and naturally it’s going to turn out to be progressively extra vital for his or her work, so we be sure that our college students perceive the stuff very properly and so they do a variety of pc modeling. As properly after all we nonetheless drag them into the sector and make them discover specimens and accumulate them and do the fundamental analysis on them. And since that’s additionally essential to us.

Sabrina: So I simply needed to deliver up Dino 101 a bit bit, and it’s a free course open to anybody who needs to affix, no stipulations, and after studying the ebook Dino Video games I received the sense that you just’re very open and welcoming together with your work. So what made you resolve to create this course?

Philip Currie: Nicely I can’t take credit score for it as a result of it was the Dean of Science of the College of Alberta who first introduced it to our consideration that we may do this type of factor. And naturally my first query was, what’s a mooc? I requested him why an open course, and I had no concept. It all the time appeared to me that this was an vital means that the science was going as a result of so many individuals are all for dinosaurs and I get contacted on a regular basis by emails or letters or individuals phoning or exhibiting up in my workplace or no matter. So there’s no query that the urge for food is on the market, and appeared to me that this was a brand new space for instructing and what we needed there was make it possible for it was additionally one thing we may incorporate within the college system. So out of Dino 101 we even have two programs on the college. One which is named Paleo 200, and the opposite one which is named Paleo 201. 200 is simply the Dino 101 course primarily besides individuals pay tuitions and so they take exams and so they get graded on it. So 201 goes past that the place we’ve got discipline journeys, particular lectures and so forth. So it dietary supplements the fundamental course itself. What we needed to do after all is within the college see if in actual fact we may flip this course right into a primary introductory course so that folks may transfer on from the introductory course into different programs in paleontology. And I wasn’t positive how that was going to work, I wasn’t positive the way it was going to work to most of the people with Dino 101 both. It’s simply a kind of issues that you just take an opportunity on, you imagine in that you recognize there’s super potential to it however whether or not or not you’ll ever notice that potential is one other matter. I must say it succeeded on all ranges that, you recognize, we’ve got near fifty thousand college students now with Dino 101. It has the perfect report for individuals finishing the course as a result of lots of people they pattern mooc programs however they don’t truly full them. And in addition there are many logistics which might be fairly fascinating. You recognize individuals are inclined to suppose that it’s little boys who like dinosaurs however the actuality is we’ve impacted extra ladies who take the course, so it’s fairly fascinating that means too. It actually was one thing that we thought most likely would work. We had no concept the way it was going to work. And it’s been an awesome schooling for me to see that regardless that the course was actually aimed toward being for a primary yr college pupil, or a better degree highschool college students, in actuality we had individuals as younger as six years previous undergo the course and you recognize with the assistance of their dad and mom for a few of the issues they’ve managed to do very properly. And so it takes the lid off what you suppose you are able to do. Our oldest pupil I believe was properly into her eighties, so it’s reached lots of people and taught us lots about schooling as properly.

Sabrina: Ah ya, that’s a wide array. How typically does the course run?

Philip Currie: We run the course twice a yr proper now, and so we’ll begin in September after which they’ll begin once more in January most years. That’s been the sample to this point. We could up it to a few occasions a yr, we’re not likely positive but. We’re again within the means of growing one other degree of the course per se which we’re tentatively calling Dino 102, and that’ll be extra specialised than Dino 101. So for instance I’ll spend a variety of time speaking concerning the origin of the birds from theropod dinosaurs. So we’ll see how that goes too.

Sabrina: Oh wow. So you recognize I’ll take that class.

Philip Currie: Good.

Sabrina: So there’s a variety of interactive components in Dino 101. You’ve received video classes, photos, however there’s let’s see the 3D fossil exploring surroundings the place you organize bones on-line, and the interactive timeline that tells us concerning the completely different ages on earth. How did you and your group provide you with these components?

Philip Currie: Nicely we’ve got a variety of inventive thinkers together with our previous graduate college students who work in paleontology. Everyone’s received completely different experiences and alternative ways of approaching issues and so essentially this has been a group effort the place we sit down, we brainstorm and provide you with concepts. A few of the concepts don’t work in addition to we’d like them to, we change them with different concepts and so forth. However you recognize the interactive museum concept specifically I actually like as a result of it’s one thing we’re doing anyway and I we’re taking bones and we’re as I discussed digitizing them, and we’re utilizing them for pc modeling. And so one of many actual disadvantages after all with a web-based course is that folks can’t deal with the precise flows. They will’t go to a laboratory and decide them up and have a look at these fossils. However by doing the digitized fashions on-line then after all that does give individuals a possibility to see this stuff from all sides, regardless that it’s a pc mannequin, by no means the much less it’s the identical sort of factor that we might work on after we’re doing pc mannequin so there’s one thing to be discovered from that. A few of these issues have actually labored very properly for us and different ones we’re nonetheless taking a look at new concepts, new methods of doing it.

Sabrina: In response to Dino Video games you’re a dino hunter, what does that imply?

Philip Currie: Dino hunters are individuals who exit and hunt fossils after all, and in my case I’m particularly on the lookout for dinosaurs. And whether or not I’m searching dinosaurs in my residence metropolis of Edmonton or whether or not I’m in actual fact working in Antarctica or the arctic there’s a variety of work concerned in going out and discovering dinosaur bones. They don’t simply all of a sudden seem in entrance of you otherwise you simply can’t stroll proper as much as them and there they’re normally. Usually you could have to spend so much of time strolling and searching. And so for instance a traditional day in Dinosaur Provincial Park can be for us to rise up early within the morning and begin strolling and stroll all day on the lookout for fossils. We’ll discover fossils on a regular basis however by way of vital fossils, issues which might be actually distinctive, you must stroll an extended very long time. So on common regardless of the truth that Dinosaur Park has produced over eight hundred skeletons through the years, once you have a look at the quantity of manpower that’s put into discovering these eight hundred skeletons it really works out to about 4 man weeks for every one. So 4 man weeks means you’re strolling 4 weeks with out discovering the rest. It’s not fairly that easy after all but it surely nonetheless exhibits you that there’s in actual fact a variety of work concerned find issues. We go to a variety of locations just like the Arctic and the Antarctic, typically we’re strolling as much as twelve or sixteen hours a day and also you don’t discover a single scrap of bone of something. And but on the finish of the expedition you will have discovered one thing that’s solely a single bone, which if in Alberta frankly we might most likely ignore as a result of it’s not that vital, however within the Arctic or the Antarctic that’s an identifiable bone that tells you what animals have been in actual fact residing in that space, and it turns into a vital specimen. And you set a variety of effort into discovering it or trying to find it.

Sabrina: Proper. So in Antarctica or the Arctic did you set off on these expeditions anticipating to search out one thing or did you could have like a tip or one thing, how did you find yourself there?

Philip Currie: The arctic was no tip. We knew that dinosaur bones had been present in some instances earlier than. These are simply remoted bones that have been discovered fortuitously by say geologists or anyone doing biology on polar bears or no matter. So the arctic, we didn’t have any clues apart from the truth that we knew the rocks have been the precise age and the potential was there of discovering dinosaur bones. In order that was an fascinating story as a result of we went up there first in 1986, and we seemed and seemed and seemed and we didn’t get something but for one thing like six weeks. And the next yr there was an Inuit boy on the market with a geologist, and he discovered a dinosaur bone. And naturally as soon as he discovered it then we knew okay the realm he was was perhaps a pair hundred kilometers away from the place we have been. So we went again in 89, went to the place the place he discovered these bones, and that bone, that preliminary bone, we discovered tons extra dinosaur bones. So that you all the time should take the prospect typically with these websites. Antarctic was a bit bit completely different although as a result of in 1990 a geologist was mainly measuring a bit […](00:21:15) of the rocks on a mountainside, which is just about the middle of Antarctica. And he discovered dinosaur bones, and so in 1990 the specimen was discovered, it was partly excavated however after all the circumstances are very troublesome, it’s very costly to work there. So we have been capable of go along with a celebration in one thing like 13 years after the specimen was discovered initially to try to accumulate the remainder of the skeleton. And that was a fully wonderful expertise for working 600 kilometers from the South Pole and 4 thousand meters, about eleven thousand ft above sea degree. And so it was chilly. And, however we received one other a part of the skeleton, a couple of third of the skeleton out and we lastly went again 2010 and completed the job lastly, and within the means of doing that we received to go searching a bit bit, we discovered a number of extra dinosaur skeletons in the identical space. So it was a matter of attending to the realm first. As soon as we’re within the space then we began to get higher luck and get higher specimens. So it’s all the time this mixture and typically you’re very fortunate and like anyone from most of the people was strolling their canine at one web site in Edmonton, and simply occurred to discover a dinosaur. Brings it to our consideration and we notice that hey, it is a cool web site. So we go up and test it and positive sufficient.

Sabrina: Within the ebook it gave the impression of your focus is on carnivores and particularly Tarbosaurus that… okay.

Philip Currie: Albertosaurus sarcophagus is in actual fact a dinosaur a dinosaur, it’s very carefully associated to tyrannosaurus rex. Right here in Alberta we’ve got one other one referred to as daspletosaurus, and the three animals kind this little sub-family group that every a kind of could be very carefully associated to one another. Tarbosaurus is a really fascinating one although. It’s discovered within the Gobi Desert, and the place it’s discovered it’s a dominant animal. It’s the most typical dinosaur we discover there. That doesn’t make any sense, as a result of when you consider it you’ll be able to’t have extra lions than antelope. Mainly they should eat and in the event that they should eat there needs to be sufficient meals for them. So usually what occurs is the carnivores solely make up about 5 % of any fauna. That’s true right here in say Alberta the place most of our tyrannosaurs are fairly uncommon animals. There’s solely a kind of for each twenty or so plant consuming dinosaurs. However in Mongolia it’s fifty-fifty. That doesn’t actually compute. One thing else is occurring there. So it’s a really fascinating downside to try to work out why we get so many Tarbosaurus skeletons in Mongolia. We’re speaking perhaps between seventy and 100 skeletons now that we all know of from Mongolia. And that’s the identical quantity that we’ve got of duck-billed dinosaurs and horn dinosaurs and armor dinosaurs and so forth. All these animals put collectively solely make up the identical factor and the identical quantity as tarbosaurs. We all know it’s received one thing to do with some sort of preservational bias although. There’s one thing selectively preserving extra tarbosaurs than the rest. And we all know that as a result of the identical beds nearly will produce footprints. And the footprint sightings are very completely different, as a result of regardless that they’re interspersed with the place we discover the skeletons, after we have a look at the variety of footprints, Tarbosaurus is just about 5 % of the animals. So the footprints are telling us it is a regular ecosystem, the skeletons are telling us this isn’t regular. And we’ve got just a few concepts, you recognize, for instance it’s fairly attainable that Tarbosaurus was a really efficient carnivore that ate nearly all the things there was to eat of any animal, but it surely didn’t go away a lot proof of the plant consuming dinosaurs it was consuming. We all know that Tarbosaurus, like tyrannosaurus rex, had these large tooth and bone-crunching jaws that have been most likely unbelievable by way of what they will do and course of. And we had a really fascinating journey a few years in the past to Komodo Nationwide Park in Indonesia to take a look at komodo dragons and the way they perform. And we witnessed a big pig and wild boar, each the identical measurement as a komodo dragon, which was eaten by 9 komodo dragons who fully dismembered it. They ate all the things, completely all the things, even the hair. Utterly gone in lower than twenty minutes.

Sabrina: Wow.

Philip Currie: And there was nothing left, nothing however the scent. Nevertheless it was an awesome schooling too as a result of I by no means realized that komodo dragons may try this sort of factor, and so they don’t have the sort of tooth that say one thing like Tarbosaurus had. Tarbosaurus had tooth that actually have been as properly tailored as say a hyena is in the present day by way of consuming animals. In order that’s actually one chance for explaining it. The one factor is you recognize, okay properly why does it occur there, and why doesn’t it occur right here? Why isn’t tyrannosaurus rex doing the identical factor? So these little puzzles are very fascinating and it’s enjoyable to develop a concept or a speculation and exit and see if yow will discover proof to help it or refute it. And that’s an enormous a part of our enjoyable now and we mainly paleontologists are detectives. You recognize we’re taking a look at these crime scenes and are sixty or 100 million years previous and we’re making an attempt to determine what occurred. And it’s a variety of enjoyable, it’s nice, an awesome psychological course of making an attempt to work this stuff out whereas working with fascinating animals all by themselves.

Sabrina: So I do know considered one of your theories is that dinosaurs could have lived in gangs. May you elaborate a bit bit on that?

Philip Currie: Positive, and you recognize Alberta right here we’ve got these implausible websites everywhere in the province in actual fact the place you recognize we don’t discover complete skeletons per se, what we discover are bone beds. And within the bone beds we’ve got stays of many people the place all of the bones have fallen aside, primarily the skeletons have fallen aside and the bones have turn out to be combined collectively. So that you typically can’t inform which bones belong to which people. Nevertheless, a few of these bone beds are dominated by single species of animals. I began engaged on this within the Nineteen Seventies and realized that each one actually after I put all my time into it at the moment is was a ceratopsidae concerned and have been greater than seventy ceratopsium or horned animals had died in the identical place on the similar time. And the one means I’m capable of clarify this was that these animals have been residing collectively on the time of their dying, and so they have been most likely residing collectively as much as the time of their dying. And this implied that these animals in actual fact had a social construction. We’ve now had an amazing quantity of proof of those horned dinosaurs travelling in herds. We’ve got herds in Dinosaur Park now that appear to signify mass dying websites, so 1000’s of animals. And in different components of the world like Montana we now know that duck billed dinosaurs have indicators which strongly suggests these animals have been transferring in very massive herds as properly. Alaska as properly has proof of herds. Right here in Edmonton, ten kilometers from my home we’ve got a herd of edmontosaurus, one of many largest duck billed dinosaurs. And so forth and so forth. So we all know, I believe we’re fairly positive that the plant-eating dinosaurs previous to the late Cretaceous have been in actual fact herding animals and possibly migrating animals as properly. Now the factor is that if you happen to have a look at a contemporary ecosystem the place you could have massive herds of herbivores, you nearly invariably have packs of carnivores as properly. And that’s as a result of the herbivores are ganging collectively partially in order that they will defend themselves from the carnivores. That’s good for the herbivores, it’s not good for the carnivores. Carnivores have to eat, so mainly they work out little social buildings as properly. So if you happen to go to the African veldt for instance, lions that are very carefully associated to tigers, lions are very particular social buildings. And that’s as a result of they transfer in teams or prides or household teams, and so they hunt collectively and so they’re going after after all herds of antelope, herds of zebra, herds of different issues. So there’s a robust affiliation between herds and packs or herds and prides. Identical factor in North America with herds of caribou and packs of wolves, for instance. You all the time see these sort of issues.

Now for a very long time in dinosaurs we knew that we’ve got these monumental herds of duckbilled dinosaurs, monumental herds of horned dinosaurs, however we didn’t have any proof for the carnivores doing the identical factor. However a curious factor occurred in that after I was performing some museum looking at one level I discovered a couple of 1910 Barnum Brown who on his very first expedition to gather dinosaurs in Alberta discovered the positioning the place there have been all these tyrannosaurs that have been residing collectively or had died collectively. And he had components of 9 skeletons of the tyrannosaurus, albertasaurus from one single place. And that received me fairly excited so we dug up no matter it’s we may to assist us re-find the positioning, and there was {a photograph} fortunately, and that one {photograph} ultimately led to the invention of the positioning that Brown had excavated in 1910. Nicely Brown had solely excavated a part of the skeleton, and he in actual fact had misplaced a variety of it within the floor sill, so we took the quantity from 9 animals to greater than twenty animals within the one bowl mattress. And it is a place the place we’ve got tyrannosaurs and we’ve got just a few duck-bill dinosaur bones, however they appear to be nearly ancillary, they’re simply there by chance. They have been washed in by the river, and so they’re not articulated animals. So all of a sudden we had this proof that means that at the least some tyrannosaurs moved collectively in packs. And we began taking a look at different tyrannosaur websites to see if in actual fact there was proof of different tyrannosaurs have been doing the identical factor as albertasaurus. And Tarbosaurus in Mongolia, one of many causes we could have so many animals there and why they outnumber all of the plant consuming dinosaurs as properly is as a result of perhaps this stuff in actual fact have been additionally transferring in packs, and what we’re discovering in Mongolia are remnants of those packs that received trapped by some pure course of and killed a number of people. So proper now I believe I really feel fairly strongly about the truth that we’ve got packs of meat consuming dinosaurs which might be in actual fact searching herds of plant consuming dinosaurs.

Sabrina: Is {that a} broadly accepted concept?

Philip Currie: Nicely it’s very fascinating due to course after we first proposed that we had a herd horn dinosaurs, everyone was very a lot in opposition to that. Everyone was saying that dinosaurs have been simply typical reptiles, and reptiles in the present day don’t normally transfer in any sort of social groupings. So there was a variety of resistance to that originally, however the factor is that we received a lot proof, there was so many locations in Alberta the place we had these herds of horn dinosaurs, or between Montana and Alberta the place we had these herds of duck invoice dinosaurs and subsequent to that after all we discovered a number of websites, of footprint websites the place we’ve got different varieties of dinosaurs too, together with the large sauropods, who dwell in teams. So all of the proof finally turned so overwhelming that I believe the vast majority of individuals settle for it simply by the, this tidal wave of data that was being collected worldwide. With the carnivores you’re coping with animals which might be a lot rarer, and consequently you could have a a lot decrease likelihood of discovering groupings like this. However now we’ve got fairly just a few websites which might be doing the identical sort of factor. So I might say the thought is new sufficient that there’s nonetheless fairly a little bit of resistance to the thought, however I believe as time goes on and folks look into it extra and try to show or disprove it, it doesn’t matter which, you do in actual fact accumulate proof that’s going to indicate what actuality was like. And proper now I might say that the shift is coming in direction of individuals accepting extra of the concept these animals did transfer in teams.

Sabrina: So I do know you’ve collaborated comparable to with the Korea Mongolia Worldwide Dinosaur Mission. Do you discover that you just study extra from working in groups, or extra by yourself? Which do you like?

Philip Currie: I sort of like each, however the actuality is with you recognize small initiatives you are able to do these by your self. However once you’re coping with one thing that doubtlessly has an amazing quantity of data which you can collect collectively or the place you want completely different sorts of sciences or individuals with completely different sorts of experience to work collectively, then the bigger initiatives work higher as groups. Paleogeology like all the sciences turns into way more multi-disciplinary and multinational through the years, and we discover that ya we should still do particular person initiatives, however I believe that almost all of the initiatives we’re working with you need to make some true breakthroughs, then it’s actually good to work collectively as a gaggle. There’s some actual benefits in that.

Sabrina: In case you had a want record of finds what can be on the high of it?

Philip Currie: Oh my want record would most likely be troodon. Troodon’s a… was first present in 1854, if you happen to imagine it. A single tooth in Montana. And after a very long time we had no concept what troodon was. It was a small theropod dinosaur for some individuals. For different individuals it was a lizard. For different individuals it was a plant consuming dinosaur, we actually had no concept. However within the Eighties we in actual fact discovered a jaw right here in Alberta which proved that troodon was a carnivorous dinosaur. Turned out to be one other dinosaur that we had referred to as Styracosaurus which turned out was the brainiest dinosaur we knew of. Largest identified mind. That is an animal the place the mind at, for its physique measurement, is about six occasions the scale of a crocodile of the identical physique measurement. It’s an animal that has binocular imaginative and prescient, like us. It sees issues in three dimensions. It had fingers that might manipulate issues. It had very lengthy legs that have been constructed for velocity. It’s a runner. And now we all know from assessments in Mongolia and China that that is in actual fact a feathered dinosaur as properly. And possibly the dinosaur that’s most carefully associated to birds. Now the curious factor is that in any case these years we nonetheless discover bits and items of this dinosaur however we’ve got by no means discovered an entire skeleton, and so for me I might simply like to discover a complete skeleton simply to know that each one the issues that we put collectively through the years, all the proof in actual fact is appropriate.

Sabrina: My final query is, what recommendation would you give to budding paleontologists, or people who find themselves simply passionate about dinosaurs?

Philip Currie: Nicely after all there’s some ways to be passionate about dinosaurs, there are lots of individuals who specialise in dinosaurs in very alternative ways. And naturally not everyone likes to analysis, not everyone likes to do discipline work, not everyone likes to work in dusty collections in an previous museum. Some individuals love to do issues on pc modeling and all the things, there’s simply so some ways you’ll be able to work on dinosaurs, and if you wish to turn out to be a analysis paleontologist you actually should go the entire mile. It’s a must to undergo your education, you must try to get a doctorate finally, you must publish analysis papers, be good at writing and illustration, at discovering issues and all the remainder of it. I imply there’s a variety of issues concerned, however there are additionally individuals who like dinosaurs who solely go so far as changing into say collections managers. They don’t do a lot analysis, they’re extra all for simply dealing with and dealing in fossils themselves. Or changing into technicians the place they’re doing preparation on dinosaurs. I really like doing preparation however I by no means have time to do preparation as a result of I spend most of my time after all writing and issues like that. There’s different people who find themselves in actual fact artists who specialise in nothing however dinosaurs. There’s three in Alberta alone who’re world well-known artists who do nothing however work on the dinosaurs. So there’s some ways to pores and skin a cat, and it’s mainly you must resolve precisely what you need, and you must then discover the best way to do it. The mechanism to do it. In my case it was a matter of whilst a highschool pupil I used to be going to individuals who have been already paleontologists and asking them what I wanted to do by way of my course work to get into the college and specialise in dinosaurs particularly. In different instances after all if you happen to’re an artist and also you need to do it that means then you definitely method artwork faculty, see what you are able to do that means. However predominant factor is don’t be afraid to speak to individuals, as a result of everyone within the discipline whether or not you’re a analysis scientist or an artist who focuses on dinosaurs, they’re very prepared to speak to individuals and see them develop a choice to your profession.

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