FASCINATING FIELD - University of Alberta professor and former Royal Tyrrell Museum curator of dinosaurs Philip J. Currie is coming to Red Deer College to present new information about Alberta’s famous raptor on March 29th. photo submitted

Alberta’s famous raptor the focus on talk set for March 29th

Philip J. Currie is coming to Red Deer College as a guest speaker for the Red Deer River Naturalists

University of Alberta professor and former Royal Tyrrell Museum curator of dinosaurs Philip J. Currie is coming to Red Deer College to present new information about Alberta’s famous raptor on March 29th as a guest speaker for the Red Deer River Naturalists (RDRN).

“He’s probably Alberta’s foremost dinosaur expert, and has been for a while,” said Tony Blake, president of the RDRN.

Currie played an instrumental role in developing the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology into what it is today during his time as curator there.

When it comes to the new information on the raptor Blake said, “To be honest, I’m as curious as you.”

Saurornitholestes Langstoni, better known as the Raptor of Alberta, has been of significant interest since it was discovered and excavated by the University of Alberta paleontologist in 2014 in the Alberta Dinosaur Provincial Park.

The raptor is about the size of a German Shepherd Dog.

The skeleton Saurornitholestes langstoni is 75 million years old and is the most intact version of a small meat-eating dinosaur ever found in Canada. It is the only complete specimen known in the world.

Currie’s talks are well delivered and accessible for regular people, according to Blake.

Audience members do not have to have an advanced understanding of the field.

“I took my ten-year old to see him a few years ago and he ended up asking him some good questions, and he was right in it. Mind you he’s a smart kid,” Blake said.

Currie has a PhD from McGill University and honourary degrees from the University of Calgary and the University of British Columbia.

He has published more than 225 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals and another 50 scientific papers in conference volumes and books.

He has also written 158 popular articles and co-written and published 20 books.

Some of his book titles include The Flying Dinosaurs: The Illustrated Guide to the Evolution of Flight, Feathered Dragons: Studies on the Transition from Dinosaurs to Birds and A Moment in Time with Albertosaurus.

He has also written several children’s books.

Currie is also the developer behind the U of A’s first massive open online course (MOOC) called DINO101 which made its debut in 2013 and has been taken by more than 100,000 students worldwide.

He has also since released a new mini-course – MOOC Paleontology: Theropod Dinosaurs and the Origin of Birds.

“We hope people are curious and we want to give them something that justifies that curiosity. There’s always a sense of wonder about the natural world. It’s always neat to open up people’s eyes,” Blake said.

He added that the aim of the Red Deer River Naturalists is to encourage Albertans to take some pride in the nature around us.

“We really do live in a special place compared to the rest of the world; we’ve really got a lot going for us,” Blake said.

Presentations put on by the RDRN are always free of charge but as there is limited seating in the Margaret Parson’s Theatre at Red Deer College, they ask that those wishing to come reserve a ticket at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre in advance.

The Red Deer River Naturalists is a society dedicated to the public education and appreciation of natural history.

They offer talks on various scientific subjects once a month, free of charge.

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