Monday, June 14, 2010

"New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs" is finally available!

Last Thursday the book of papers from the Royal Tyrrell Museum's Ceratopsian Symposium, "New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs", was made available after a long (and frustrating) delay through Indiana University Press.

This volume includes 36 peer-reviewed papers as well as a CD-ROM of three additional informative papers (including a history of ceratopsian discoveries and a bibliography of published papers). The book has 10 new species described and numerous thought-provoking hypotheses proposed.

Why am I so excited about it being published? As a volunteer, I was able to help the editors with final edits on the book and was pleasantly surprised by being named an editorial assistant. Also, it's a landmark publication that will be cited for years to come and I was honored to be able to help.

So run out and get it while it's literally hot off the press and enjoy! :D

Friday, June 11, 2010

The scow trip approaches...

Our scow trip down the Red Deer River is approaching. See the blog "Dinosaur Hunting by Boat in 2010: Alberta, Canada" for more information.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New exhibit at Tyrrell Museum

May 22 is the opening of the latest exhibit at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alberta. It's in celebration of their 25th anniversary. They've chosen 25 amazing specimens to put on display. You can see photos of the specimens on their Flickr site here: The exhibit is entitled "Alberta Unearthed: Twenty-five stories of discovery". I'm looking forward to seeing it and hope you are too!

The above picture is one of the specimens, a Tyrannosaurus rex called Black Beauty. The image was shamelessly stolen from the Tyrrell Flickr page.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

D-Day approaches

So tomorrow at 2PM is my 2 hour oral candidacy exam. I don't think I've been this stressed out since I got divorced over a dozen years ago. Today I went through all the different stages of grief, with an especially long time spent on anger. Mainly it pisses me off that I have to go through all of this to prove my academic worthiness when I've already completed a masters degree. I guess I could see it if someone goes from completing their bachelors right into a PhD, but did my 2.5 years of research count for nothing? I guess not. Sigh.

Tonight I'm to the point where if I fail, that will be fine because in all the years I did accounting I never felt this beat up. So maybe accounting wasn't that bad after all.

So wish me luck tomorrow. I'm pretty disillusioned about the entire thing and I'm suspicious that I won't feel any better about it when it's over - no matter how it turns out. T minus 16 hours and counting...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Horned Dinosaur Book

The latest on the "New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs" book is that it will be released on May 28, 2010. I'm crossing my fingers, although after all the other delays I won't really believe it until I have it in my hot little hands. :D

Monday, April 26, 2010

Congratulations Dani Fraser, newly minted master of science!

Congratulations to Dani Fraser for successfully defending her masters thesis "Studying latitudinal variation in the response of ungulates to Late Miocene climate change utilizing ungulates from the Coffee Ranch (Hemphillian Age) of Texas" here at the Biological Sciences Department of the University of Calgary.

Dani will be going on to Carleton University for her PhD and continuing her research in the Rybczynski lab.

Congratulations Dani!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Candidacy exams

I am currently in the middle of my candidacy written exam - otherwise known as 'candidacy hell'. I noticed as the exams approached and I discussed (or, more accurately, complained) about them, that many people didn't know what they are. So I thought I'd post a short explanation about them. Candidacy exams are also known as qualifying exams and most PhD students will have to endure them in one form or another. I had them explained to me by a committee member as a way for your advisory committee to ensure that you can handle the pressures of academic life and/or the rigors of research as well as to look for deficiencies within your knowledge that need to be worked on. They also see how you work under pressure.

Candidacy exams come in two basic forms: 1) a written exam and 2) an oral exam. The majority of people who have been through them have told me that they only had to endure a two hour oral exam. My department, however, makes you go through both. Here's a timeline of how this should work: Approximately 6 months before your oral exam, you/your supervisor/your committee (or some combination thereof) create a reading list to help refresh your memory on the basics within your chosen field, teach you new techniques for your research, and to catch you up on any important literature that you may have missed. My reading list included 23 books and 18 papers. I ended up reading them all, plus an additional 9 books and countless papers. Then one month before your oral exam, you receive four questions that your committee has compiled. You choose three of those questions to write 20-25 page (double spaced) papers on within the following three weeks. These papers get turned in to your committee members. Then you get a week "off" - but most people spend that time familiarizing themselves with the subject(s) of the fourth question. The end of that week is your two hour oral exam. The format for the oral exam usually follows a program: First, your committee members ask questions related to the papers that you have written, then, they ask about the question that chose not to write on, and finally, they can ask whatever they want on basically whatever subject they want. Usually, they don't ask questions that are too far out in left-field, but I've heard some real horror stories.

While this sounds (and is) pretty daunting, I'd almost rather have both the written and oral exam because at least you can feel prepared for the oral exam. Going into an oral exam cold with no idea what your committee may ask would be terrifying.

If I could change things, I would reduce the number of papers that we had to write from three to two in the allotted three week time period so we could spend a bit more time thinking about the subject matter and polishing them up when completed. However, it is what it is.

My oral exam is on May 5th at 2PM (MST). If there is a very loud pop heard around the world at that time, rest assured that it is my head exploding. Now back to work for me.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spam within the comments section.

I'm going to start blocking the comments section because I'm consistently getting spam from asian porn sites there. It's starting to get frustrating. I can't seem to get in to change the settings so they can no longer post comments. I think it's due to the way in which the blog was originally set up. If anyone of my fellow administrators has any issues, email me directly. Thanks.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

APS talk on the Mesozoic of the south coast of England

Shamelessly stolen from an email from Phil Benham of the Alberta Paleontological Society:

"A Fieldtrip to the Mesozoic South Coast of England"

Speaker: Vaclav Marsovsky
APS Membership director

7:30 PM
Friday, April 16th, 2010
Mount Royal University, Room B108

If you have an interest or want to travel to the South Coast of England to see the geology and the fossils, then this presentation is for you! The presentation will follow the route taken during a recent field trip organized by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. The major rock units and their fossils will be discussed with a focus on vertebrates. The presentation will cover fossils eroding from the rocks in the field, in private collections of local collectors, and on display at local public museums and Heritage Centres. The rocks were initially studied by the clergy and medical practitioners turned geologists and palaeontologists. The “who’s who” in 19th century geology and palaeontology relating to the South Coast will be covered. This presentation will show what the rocks look like and cover the Tertiary / Cretaceous sites from the Isle of Wight and Mesozoic sites from the “Jurassic coast”. The term “Jurassic Coast” is a bit misleading because it covers all of the Mesozoic. From the South Coast, a 155km long section (the most interesting and worth protecting) became a UNESCO site in the year 2001. The Jurassic Coast is one of those rare sites where collecting of common fossils is encouraged and amateur fossil collectors play an important role in the science.

This event is jointly presented by the Alberta Palaeontological Society, Mount Royal University and the CSPG Palaeontology Division. For details or to present a talk in the future please contact CSPG Paleo Division Chair Philip Benham at 403-691-3343 or . Visit the APS website for confirmation of event times and upcoming speakers:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Quit spamming the blog you scumbags!

Okay. I know I don't update this blog very often, but whoever it is that keeps putting spam in the comments is going to get an old fashioned ass kicking if they aren't careful. It's always some asian porn crap. I'll be reporting the 'person' who keeps doing this to the proper e-blogger authorities.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Palaeo 2010

The Alberta Palaeontological Society is holding it's annual sympsium at Mount Royal University March 13th & 14th.

I'm excited to see Dr. Scott Sampson of the Utah Museum of Natural History present as he is easily the best speaker I've ever seen. There will be a book signing afterwards so don't forget to bring your "Dinosaur Odyssey" books along!

Below is a list of speakers and events shamelessly stolen right from Phil Benham's email (although I'm sure he won't mind). : )

PALEO 2010 Annual Paleontology Symposium Presented in conjunction with the C.S.P.G. Paleontological Division, Alberta Palaeontological Society and Mount Royal University Earth Sciences Department

Lectures and Poster displays (Saturday, March 13th, 2010, 8:30 AM-5:15 PM) Workshops (Sunday March 14th, 2010, (9:00 AM- 4:00 PM)

Saturday lecture events and poster viewings are free and require no registration. Sunday workshops do require registration and minor fee.

Mount Royal University 4825 Richard Road S.W. Calgary, Alberta

Saturday March 13th Lectures (held in Jenkins Theatre) Speakers confirmed so far include (talk titles are tentative):

8.30-8.45 AM Introduction by APS President Wayne Braunberger

8.45-9.15 AM Craig Dylke. New Zealand's fossils: remnants of a lost continent

9:15-9.45 AM Danielle Fraser, Jordan Mallon, Rob Furr, and Jessica M. Theodor, Univ. of Calgary Using high dynamic range imaging in vertebrate paleontology

9.45-10.15 AM Lisa Bohach, FMA Heritage The art, culture and science of Iniskims

10.15-10.30 AM Coffee Break

10.30 -11.00 AM Darren Tanke, Royal Tyrrell Museum Reconstruction of scows used in early paleontological research and a commemorative expedition planned for 2010.

11.00-12.00 PM Marianne Collins, ArtoFact. History, mystery and baywatch: Illustrating the animals of the Burgess Shale

12-1.30 PM Lunch break and Poster Session

1.30-2:00 PM Scott Persons, University of Alberta Changing the face of tyrannosaur rear ends: tail muscle reconstruction in theropod dinosaurs

2.00-2.30 PM Ariana Carabajal, Museo Carmen Funes, Argentina, and Philip Currie, University of Alberta. Cranial endocast of the Jurassic theropod Sinraptor dongi (Currie & Zhao)

2.30-3:00 PM Victoria Arbour, Mike Burns, University of Alberta My ankylosaur is a big dumb tank! Ankylosaur reconstructions in the scientific literature and popular media

3.00- 4.00 PM Philip Currie, University of Alberta Dinosaurs in science and art

4.00-4.15 PM Coffee Break

4.15-5.15 PM Scott Sampson, , Utah Museum of Natural History, University of Utah Dinosaurs of the lost continent of Laramidia (Book signing afterwards)

WORKSHOPS (Sunday March 14th), Room B213, Mount Royal University.

9 -12 AM: Permian Vertebrate Fossils from North Central Texas Presenter: Jason Anderson, University of Calgary Cost: $15 per person. This workshop will cover the faunas typical for the classic Permian localities of northern Texas. There will be a brief introduction to the history of collecting in the Permian of Texas. This will be followed by a survey of the most common fossils found. Small collections of fossils from a few localities will be provided for workshop participants to examine and identify. Screenwashed sediments may also be available for participants to examine for fossil remains.

Jason Anderson is a paleontologist and Assistant Professor with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary. He is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Paleontology, coeditor of Major Transitions in Vertebrate Evolution (with Hans-Dieter Sues), and a contributing author to Prehistoric Life, The McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science and Technology 2009, and the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science, 10th Edition. He is the author of over 30 articles on the early evolution of Paleozoic tetrapods.

1- 4 PM Make-a-Saurus Presenter: Brian Cooley Cost: $25 per person including cost of materials Using a variety of simple materials and methods, participants will learn how to make their own dinosaur which they will be able to take home at the end of the workshop. Children should wear clothes that they don't mind getting dirty.

Brian Cooley has been making sculptures of dinosaurs for over twenty-five years. His sculptures may be seen in museums all over the world, most notably the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alberta. He and his wife, Mary Ann Wilson, are co-authors of the children's book Make-A-Saurus.

Make cheque payable to the Alberta Palaeontological Society, P.O. Box 35111, Sarcee Postal Outlet, Calgary Alberta, Canada T3E 7C7. Deadline for workshop registration is March 1st, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

University of Alberta Biennial Palaeo Symposium

The Bienniel Palaeo Symposium is being held at the University of Alberta at Edmonton on January 30th. Here's some info shamelessly stolen off of facebook:

The 3rd Biennial Symposium takes place Saturday, January 30, 2010, in the Earth Sciences Building room 3-27.

8:30: registration table opens

9 – 9:30 Alison Murray, “Late Cretaceous actinopterygian fishes from Morocco”

9:30 – 10 Lindsey Leighton, “The influence of predation on community composition and evenness: A case-study from Eocene molluscan communities”

10 – 10:30 coffee break and posters

10:30 – 11:00 Clive Coy, “What species is that faeces?”

11:00 – 11:30 Kevin Aulenback, “What’s really out there? The conifers (gymnosperms) of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation (Cretaceous) of Drumheller, Alberta.”

11:30 – noon Duane Froese, “Alaska’s last mammoth - no bones about it.”

Noon – 1:30 pm lunch and posters

1:30 – 2:00 Pierre Lemelin, “Functional morphology of the wrist joints in strepsirrhine primates: Importance of laboratory-based experiments to infer behaviour in extinct species.”

2:00 – 2:30: Sally Leys, “Evolution of multicellular animals: lessons from sponges.”

2:30 – 3:30 – coffee break and posters

3:30 - 4 Takuya Konishi, “Evolution of Plioplatecarpinae (Squamata: Mosasauridae)—new insights into their pelagic adaptations”

4 – 4:45 keynote: George Pemberton, “Assessing permeability/porosity trends in bioturbated media”

There will also be more than 20 posters covering dinosaurs, champsosaurs, fish, mammals, turtles, pterosaurs, and arthropods.

Following the symposium (January 30), there will be a wine and cheese reception at Leva Cappucino Bar, located close to campus at 11053 86 Ave, beginning at 7pm. Tickets are $10 each and can be reserved by emailing Tickets will be available for purchase and pick-up at the symposium registration desk, and include entrance to Leva, one free glass of wine, and refreshments. Attire is business casual/semi-formal.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

GeoCanada 2010 conference

The GeoCanada 2010 conference "Working with the Earth" is being held in Calgary May 10-14, 2010. There are numerous technical sessions, workshops and short courses of interest. It's being held at the BMO Centre at Stampede Park which is conveniently accessible by transit (C-train). Unfortunately, abstracts (preferably up to 4 pages) are due January 15th. For more information go to

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone had a lovely holiday season and that 2010 brings lots of great things. It looks to be a busy one for me, but I'll try to keep the blog updated on paleo goings-on around Alberta. Cheers! : )