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 be a professor on the College of Alberta, the place he teaches the net course Dino 101, which fits 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 amenities, a research middle, and big 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 subject.

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

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


On this episode, we focus on:

  • The dinosaur of the day: Tarbosaurus, which implies “Alarming Lizard.”
  • Tarbosaurus lived in Asia throughout 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 large as T-rex).
  • Like T-rexTarbosaurus had small forearms, and actually 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 a land bridge that related the 2 continents.
  • Enjoyable Reality: Most dinosaurs had been herbivores, however the first dinosaurs had been carnivores.

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

Sabrina: First how did you develop into interested by Paleontology?

Philip Currie: That’s an fascinating story as a result of really I used to be a type of youngsters who preferred dinosaurs from the time once I was six years previous. And to me it was a field of cereal with a plastic dinosaur in it; that acquired me hooked. However by the point I used to be eleven I’d learn a e-book referred to as All About Dinosaurs by Roy Chapman Andrews. Andrews e-book was actually about what it was prefer to be a Paleontologist or a scientist within the subject, and the day I learn the e-book 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 finished subject 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 circumstances after all we need to work there. So for instance in Mongolia and China particularly within the Gobi Desert of each international locations, the rocks are about the identical age because the rocks right here in Alberta, and the dinosaurs are very intently associated to those in Alberta. The distinction is that the dinosaurs are preserved in a barely completely different manner, so despite the fact that we’re trying on the identical dinosaurs principally 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 happening there so I may higher perceive what was happening right here. And it’s been a really profitable program that manner.

Sabrina: So what are among the variations in the way it’s preserved?

Philip Currie: Effectively for instance, in Alberta there’s an inclination for the big animals to be very nicely preserved, however the small animals are typically very spotty we’ll say. And the reason being after all you will have tyrannosaurs operating round, and if tyrannosaurs discovered something in any respect, dwelling or lifeless, they might eat it. And should you occurred to be small there wasn’t a lot left. Secondly I feel that the setting was such that the rivers had been fairly sturdy, and they might lower into the riverbanks and undercut skeletons and rework the bones and so forth, and should you occurred to be a thick animal the place the bones are heavy they’ll simply fall to the underside of the stream they usually get buried there they’ll keep roughly 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 type of a traditional preservation right here in Alberta, small dinosaurs had been very uncommon. And within the case of Mongolia it’s nearly the alternative. What occurs is that the setting was barely completely different. It was semi-arid to arid setting, fairly often the small specimens acquired buried within the sand dunes relatively than the rivers, and as a consequence of that these skeletons have a tendency to remain collectively, so we wished to have a look at the, say the anatomy of dromaeosaurid right here in Alberta, dromaeosaurid embody velociraptor. We’ve by no means discovered an entire one in Alberta earlier than, however should you go to Mongolia then after all you possibly can see an entire specimen of velociraptor, then you possibly can perceive what all of the skeletal bones appear like. And you then come again to Alberta after which determine all these remoted bones that now we have that are very onerous to determine in any other case, by no means seen them earlier than.

Sabrina: Is Mongolia type of the very best 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 exterior and I gather dinosaurs really 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 once we in contrast different areas Mongolia has a unique type of preservation as I discussed, however you get loads of large skeletons preserved too. And the factor is you possibly can nearly exit on daily basis in Mongolia and discover a new dinosaur skeleton. Right here it takes a little bit extra time to try this. Now we have extra bones total however skeletons, they’ve extra skeletons. So it’s stability.

Sabrina: So I learn the Dino Video games e-book, and nicely simply shortly, it talked about your spouse Eva’s a paleobotanist and a paleontologist. So you’re employed very intently collectively, and does she go on all of the digs with you and every thing?

Philip Currie: Eva will get to come back on all of the digs with me which is improbable. It’s actually good to have a unique perspective once you’re taking a look at fossil sources as a result of you understand within the actuality is we’re interested by all fossils, despite the fact that I could 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 any person when it comes to 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 superb really 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 conduct. What led you to deal with these items?

Philip Currie: Effectively I’m very interested by type of the biology of dinosaurs basically, and for the theropod dinosaurs it’s type of a pure, you understand the plastic dinosaur I actually wished once 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 relations of tyrannosaurus rex. The origin of birds got here in type 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. So that they’re too late in time actually one would suppose to let you know a lot concerning the origin of birds. However in truth it ended up taking a really fascinating twist as a result of among the small meat consuming dinosaurs right here, issues like troodon and dromaeosaurus, these are very birdlike in loads of methods and once I was educated at College, fundamental concepts had 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 spotted how chicken like they had been, together with to very very small particulars equivalent to the position of nerves and holes within the cranium that you just wouldn’t anticipate until there was some type 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. Despite the fact that they’re late Cretaceous in age, they’re theropod dinosaurs, and they’re very chicken like. And there’s lots we are able to study say the construction and evolution of feathers by taking a look at our late Cretaceous feathers as nicely.

Sabrina: I additionally learn you labored with pc fashions to be taught extra about dinosaurs, and I do know it, I took the category Dino 101 and I noticed it had a number of interactive parts which was actually cool. Do they assist to make clear dinosaur conduct?

Philip Currie: Pc modeling is the type of factor that you just don’t anticipate dinosaur folks to do, proper? However the great thing about it’s that dinosaur bones fairly often are very heavy, they’re huge, they’re fragile, they’re very onerous to deal with in your palms so you possibly can’t manipulate issues all that straightforward. I imply it’s not like we don’t have methods to do it. We do we are able to solid them and switch them into mild plastic after which play with them that manner. But it surely’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 let you know precisely what the dinosaur was doing with the say leg bones, however what it does offer you is a spread of potentialities. So it exhibits how far they’ll stretch their legs for instance, or how far they might fold their legs up. After which that’ll offer you some info and you then work on the premise that someplace in between might be the truth. And when you do sufficient of this sort of work issues begin to fall collectively and begin to constrain one another, every one in all these fashions that we do, and consequently you do I feel find yourself with a reasonably real looking thought of what the animals had 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 inner anatomy so for instance the mind case of a dinosaur, we are able to CT scan a cranium. Doesn’t present the mind cavity itself, however from the CT scans we are able to then get the knowledge on the mind cavity after which we are able to see the place the nerves had been operating and that helps us interpret how the animal was dwelling, how they had been interacting, what they had been able to and all these issues. So it’s fairly superb what pc modeling has finished for paleontology during the last twenty years specifically, and as I mentioned it’s fairly often we are able to’t get a particular reply however we are able to strategy a lot nearer to actuality by doing the modeling.

Sabrina: So do you utilize this method lots now?

Philip Currie: Effectively I’m nonetheless an previous fashion paleontologist the place I choose to exit into the sector and gather issues. Do the preparation and do the outline. And I do some pc modeling and I work with pc fashions however it’s one thing that we’ve made certain that our college students perceive higher as a result of it’s changing into progressively extra essential for them to have the ability to try this. at this stage I might say there have been fairly a number of dinosaurs that now we have the digitized info on skeletons for, and naturally we are able to make that info out there for different researchers wherever on the planet. However we nonetheless don’t have every thing out there and as time goes on and increasingly more of those digitized skeletons develop into out there for folks to work with and naturally it’s going to develop into progressively extra essential for his or her work, so we be certain our college students perceive the stuff very nicely they usually do loads of pc modeling. As nicely after all we nonetheless drag them into the sector and make them discover specimens and gather them and do the fundamental analysis on them. And since that’s additionally crucial to us.

Sabrina: So I simply wished to carry up Dino 101 a little bit bit, and it’s a free course open to anybody who needs to hitch, no conditions, and after studying the e-book Dino Video games I acquired the sense that you just’re very open and alluring along with your work. So what made you resolve to create this course?

Philip Currie: Effectively 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 sort of factor. And naturally my first query was, what’s a mooc? I requested him why an open course, and I had no thought. It at all times appeared to me that this was an essential manner that the science was going as a result of so many individuals are interested by dinosaurs and I get contacted on a regular basis by emails or letters or folks phoning or displaying 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 wished 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 known as Paleo 200, and the opposite one which is known as Paleo 201. 200 is simply the Dino 101 course primarily besides folks pay tuitions they usually take exams they usually get graded on it. So 201 goes past that the place now we have subject journeys, particular lectures and so forth. So it dietary supplements the fundamental course itself. What we wished to do after all is within the college see if in truth we may flip this course right into a fundamental introductory course so that individuals may transfer on from the introductory course into different programs in paleontology. And I wasn’t certain how that was going to work, I wasn’t certain the way it was going to work to most of the people with Dino 101 both. It’s simply a type of issues that you just take an opportunity on, you consider in that you understand 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 understand, now we have near fifty thousand college students now with Dino 101. It has the very best file for folks finishing the course as a result of lots of people they pattern mooc programs however they don’t really full them. And in addition there are many logistics which might be fairly fascinating. folks are likely to suppose that it’s little boys who like dinosaurs however the actuality is we’ve impacted extra women who take the course, so it’s fairly fascinating that manner too. It actually was one thing that we thought most likely would work. We had no thought the way it was going to work. And it’s been an ideal training for me to see that despite the fact that the course was actually geared toward being for a primary 12 months college pupil, or the next degree highschool college students, in actuality we had folks as younger as six years previous undergo the course and you understand with the assistance of their dad and mom for among the issues they’ve managed to do very nicely. And so it takes the lid off what you suppose you are able to do. Our oldest pupil I feel was nicely into her eighties, so it’s reached lots of people and taught us lots about training as nicely.

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

Philip Currie: We run the course twice a 12 months 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 date. We could up it to 3 instances a 12 months, we’re probably not certain 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 loads 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 understand I’ll take that class.

Philip Currie: Good.

Sabrina: So there’s loads of interactive parts in Dino 101. You’ve acquired video classes, photographs, however there’s let’s see the 3D fossil exploring setting the place you prepare bones on-line, and the interactive timeline that tells us concerning the completely different ages on earth. How did you and your workforce provide you with these parts?

Philip Currie: Effectively now we have loads of inventive thinkers together with our previous graduate college students who work in paleontology. All people’s acquired completely different experiences and other ways of approaching issues and so essentially this has been a workforce effort the place we sit down, we brainstorm and provide you with concepts. Among the concepts don’t work in addition to we’d like them to, we change them with different concepts and so forth. However you understand the interactive museum thought 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 individuals can’t deal with the precise flows. They’ll’t go to a laboratory and decide them up and take a look at these fossils. However by doing the digitized fashions on-line then after all that does give folks a possibility to see these items from all sides, despite the fact that it’s a pc mannequin, by no means the much less it’s the identical type of factor that we’d work on once we’re doing pc mannequin so there’s one thing to be realized from that. A few of these issues have actually labored very nicely for us and different ones we’re nonetheless taking a look at new concepts, new methods of doing it.

Sabrina: In accordance with 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 searching for dinosaurs. And whether or not I’m searching dinosaurs in my residence metropolis of Edmonton or whether or not I’m in truth working in Antarctica or the arctic there’s loads of work concerned in going out and discovering dinosaur bones. They don’t simply abruptly seem in entrance of you otherwise you simply can’t stroll proper as much as them and there they’re generally. Usually you will have to spend so much of time strolling and searching. And so for instance a traditional day in Dinosaur Provincial Park could be for us to stand up early within the morning and begin strolling and stroll all day searching for fossils. We’ll discover fossils on a regular basis however when it comes to essential fossils, issues which might be actually distinctive, you need to stroll a protracted very long time. So on common despite the truth that Dinosaur Park has produced over eight hundred skeletons through the years, once you take 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 anything. It’s not fairly that easy after all however it nonetheless exhibits you that there’s in truth loads of work concerned find issues. We go to loads 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 might have discovered one thing that’s solely a single bone, which if in Alberta frankly we’d most likely ignore as a result of it’s not that essential, however within the Arctic or the Antarctic that’s an identifiable bone that tells you what animals had been in truth dwelling in that space, and it turns into an important specimen. And you place loads of effort into discovering it or attempting to find it.

Sabrina: Proper. So in Antarctica or the Arctic did you set off on these expeditions anticipating to seek out one thing or did you will 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 circumstances earlier than. These are simply remoted bones that had been discovered fortuitously by say geologists or any person 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 had been the suitable 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 regarded and regarded and regarded and we didn’t get something but for one thing like six weeks. And the next 12 months 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 had 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 at all times must take the prospect typically with these websites. Antarctic was a little bit bit completely different although as a result of in 1990 a geologist was principally 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 tough, it’s very costly to work there. So we had been in a position to go along with a celebration in one thing like 13 years after the specimen was discovered initially to attempt to gather the remainder of the skeleton. And that was a fully superb 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 acquired 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 acquired to go searching a little 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 at all times this mix and typically you’re very fortunate and like any person from most of the people was strolling their canine at one website in Edmonton, and simply occurred to discover a dinosaur. Brings it to our consideration and we notice that hey, this can be a cool website. So we go up and test it and certain sufficient.

Sabrina: Within the e-book it appeared like your focus is on carnivores and particularly Tarbosaurus that… okay.

Philip Currie: Albertosaurus sarcophagus is in truth a dinosaur a dinosaur, it’s very intently associated to tyrannosaurus rex. Right here in Alberta now we have one other one referred to as daspletosaurus, and the three animals type this little sub-family group that every a type of may be very intently 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 possibly can’t have extra lions than antelope. Mainly they must eat and in the event that they must eat there must 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 type 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 attempt to determine 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 now we have 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 acquired one thing to do with some type of preservational bias although. There’s one thing selectively preserving extra tarbosaurs than anything. 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 despite the fact that they’re interspersed with the place we discover the skeletons, once we take a look at the variety of footprints, Tarbosaurus is simply about 5 % of the animals. So the footprints are telling us this can be a regular ecosystem, the skeletons are telling us this isn’t regular. And now we have a number of concepts, you understand, for instance it’s fairly potential that Tarbosaurus was a really efficient carnivore that ate nearly every thing there was to eat of any animal, however it 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 huge tooth and bone-crunching jaws that had been most likely unbelievable when it comes to what they’ll do and course of. And we had a really fascinating journey a few years in the past to Komodo Nationwide Park in Indonesia to have a look at komodo dragons and the way they perform. And we witnessed a big pig and wild boar, each the identical dimension as a komodo dragon, which was eaten by 9 komodo dragons who utterly dismembered it. They ate every thing, completely every thing, even the hair. Utterly gone in lower than twenty minutes.

Sabrina: Wow.

Philip Currie: And there was nothing left, nothing however the odor. But it surely was an ideal training too as a result of I by no means realized that komodo dragons may try this type of factor, they usually don’t have the type of tooth that say one thing like Tarbosaurus had. Tarbosaurus had tooth that actually had been as nicely tailored as say a hyena is as we speak when it comes to consuming animals. In order that’s actually one chance for explaining it. The one factor is you understand, okay nicely 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 principle or a speculation and exit and see if you’ll find proof to assist it or refute it. And that’s an enormous a part of our enjoyable now and we principally paleontologists are detectives. 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 loads of enjoyable, it’s nice, an ideal psychological course of making an attempt to work these items out whereas working with fascinating animals all by themselves.

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

Philip Currie: Positive, and you understand Alberta right here now we have these improbable websites all around the province in truth the place you understand we don’t discover complete skeletons per se, what we discover are bone beds. And within the bone beds now we have stays of many people the place all of the bones have fallen aside, primarily the skeletons have fallen aside and the bones have develop into blended 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 every one actually once I put all my time into it at the moment is was a ceratopsidae concerned and had been greater than seventy ceratopsium or horned animals had died in the identical place on the identical time. And the one manner I’m in a position to clarify this was that these animals had been dwelling collectively on the time of their dying, they usually had been most likely dwelling collectively as much as the time of their dying. And this implied that these animals in truth had a social construction. We’ve now had an incredible quantity of proof of those horned dinosaurs travelling in herds. Now we have herds in Dinosaur Park now that appear to characterize mass dying websites, so hundreds of animals. And in different elements of the world like Montana we now know that duck billed dinosaurs have indicators which strongly suggests these animals had been shifting in very massive herds as nicely. Alaska as nicely has proof of herds. Right here in Edmonton, ten kilometers from my home now we have a herd of edmontosaurus, one of many largest duck billed dinosaurs. And so forth and so forth. So we all know, I feel we’re fairly certain that the plant-eating dinosaurs previous to the late Cretaceous had been in truth herding animals and possibly migrating animals as nicely. Now the factor is that should you take a look at a contemporary ecosystem the place you will have massive herds of herbivores, you nearly invariably have packs of carnivores as nicely. And that’s as a result of the herbivores are ganging collectively partly in order that they’ll defend themselves from the carnivores. That’s good for the herbivores, it’s not good for the carnivores. Carnivores have to eat, so principally they work out little social buildings as nicely. So should you go to the African veldt for instance, lions that are very intently 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, they usually hunt collectively they usually’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. Similar factor in North America with herds of caribou and packs of wolves, for instance. You at all times see these type of issues.

Now for a very long time in dinosaurs we knew that now we have 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 once I was doing a little museum looking out at one level I discovered a couple of 1910 Barnum Brown who on his very first expedition to gather dinosaurs in Alberta discovered the location the place there have been all these tyrannosaurs that had been dwelling collectively or had died collectively. And he had elements of 9 skeletons of the tyrannosaurus, albertasaurus from one single place. And that acquired me fairly excited so we dug up no matter it’s we may to assist us re-find the location, and there was {a photograph} fortunately, and that one {photograph} in the long run led to the invention of the location that Brown had excavated in 1910. Effectively Brown had solely excavated a part of the skeleton, and he in truth had misplaced loads 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 this can be a place the place now we have tyrannosaurs and now we have a number of duck-bill dinosaur bones, however they appear to be nearly ancillary, they’re simply there accidentally. They had been washed in by the river, they usually’re not articulated animals. So abruptly we had this proof that means that not less than some tyrannosaurs moved collectively in packs. And we began taking a look at different tyrannosaur websites to see if in truth there was proof of different tyrannosaurs had 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 nicely is as a result of perhaps these items in truth had been additionally shifting in packs, and what we’re discovering in Mongolia are remnants of those packs that acquired trapped by some pure course of and killed a number of people. So proper now I feel I really feel fairly strongly about the truth that now we have packs of meat consuming dinosaurs which might be in truth searching herds of plant consuming dinosaurs.

Sabrina: Is {that a} broadly accepted principle?

Philip Currie: Effectively it’s very fascinating due to course once we first proposed that we had a herd horn dinosaurs, everyone was very a lot towards that. All people was saying that dinosaurs had been simply typical reptiles, and reptiles as we speak don’t often transfer in any type of social groupings. So there was loads of resistance to that originally, however the factor is that we acquired 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 numerous websites, of footprint websites the place now we have different forms of dinosaurs too, together with the enormous sauropods, who dwell in teams. So all of the proof finally grew to become so overwhelming that I feel the vast majority of folks settle for it simply by the, this tidal wave of knowledge that was being collected worldwide. With the carnivores you’re coping with animals which might be a lot rarer, and consequently you will have a a lot decrease likelihood of discovering groupings like this. However now now we have fairly a number of websites which might be doing the identical type of factor. So I might say the concept is new sufficient that there’s nonetheless fairly a little bit of resistance to the concept, however I feel as time goes on and folks look into it extra and attempt to show or disprove it, it doesn’t matter which, you do in truth gather proof that’s going to point out what actuality was like. And proper now I might say that the shift is coming in direction of folks accepting extra of the concept that these animals did transfer in teams.

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

Philip Currie: I type of like each, however the actuality is with you understand small initiatives you are able to do these by your self. However once you’re coping with one thing that probably has an incredible quantity of knowledge you can collect collectively or the place you want completely different sorts of sciences or folks with completely different sorts of experience to work collectively, then the bigger initiatives work higher as groups. Paleogeology like all the sciences turns into rather more multi-disciplinary and multinational through the years, and we discover that ya we should still do particular person initiatives, however I feel 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: If you happen to had a want record of finds what could 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, should you consider it. A single tooth in Montana. And after a very long time we had no thought what troodon was. It was a small theropod dinosaur for some folks. For different folks it was a lizard. For different folks it was a plant consuming dinosaur, we actually had no thought. However within the Eighties we in truth 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 recognized mind. That is an animal the place the mind at, for its physique dimension, is about six instances the scale of a crocodile of the identical physique dimension. It’s an animal that has binocular imaginative and prescient, like us. It sees issues in three dimensions. It had palms that would manipulate issues. It had very lengthy legs that had been constructed for velocity. It’s a runner. And now we all know from assessments in Mongolia and China that that is in truth a feathered dinosaur as nicely. And doubtless the dinosaur that’s most intently associated to birds. Now the curious factor is that in any case these years we nonetheless discover bits and items of this dinosaur however now we have by no means discovered a complete skeleton, and so for me I might simply like to discover a complete skeleton simply to know that every one the issues that we put collectively through the years, all the proof in truth is appropriate.

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

Philip Currie: Effectively after all there’s some ways to be obsessed with dinosaurs, there are lots of individuals who specialise in dinosaurs in very other ways. And naturally not everyone likes to analysis, not everyone likes to do subject work, not everyone likes to work in dusty collections in an previous museum. Some folks love to do issues on pc modeling and every thing, there’s simply so some ways you possibly can work on dinosaurs, and if you wish to develop into a analysis paleontologist you actually must go the entire mile. You must undergo your education, you need to attempt to get a doctorate finally, you need to publish analysis papers, be good at writing and illustration, at discovering issues and all the remainder of it. I imply there’s loads 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 interested by 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 truth 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 principally you need to resolve precisely what you need, and you need to 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 had been already paleontologists and asking them what I wanted to do when it comes to my course work to get into the college and specialise in dinosaurs particularly. In different circumstances after all should you’re an artist and also you need to do it that manner you then strategy artwork college, see what you are able to do that manner. However fundamental factor is don’t be afraid to speak to folks, as a result of everyone within the subject whether or not you’re a analysis scientist or an artist who focuses on dinosaurs, they’re very prepared to speak to folks and see them develop a choice on your profession.

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