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Philip J. Currie

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Philip J. Currie (born March 13, 1949 in Brampton, Ontario[1]) is a Canadian palaeontologist and museum curator who helped found the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alberta and is now a professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. In the 1980s he became the director of the Canada-China Dinosaur Project, the first cooperative palaeontological partnering between China and the West since the Central Asiatic Expeditions in the 1920s, and helped describe some of the first feathered dinosaurs.[1][2] He is one of the primary editors of the influential Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs,[3] and his areas of expertise include theropods, the origin of birds, and dinosaurian migration patterns and herding behavior.[4]

Biography Edit

Currie received his Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Toronto in 1972, a Masters of Science from McGill University in 1975, and a Ph.D. in biology (with distinction) from the same institution in 1981.[5] Both his masters and Ph.D. theses were on synapsids and early aquatic diapsids.[2]

Currie became curator of earth sciences at the Provincial Museum of Alberta (which became the Royal Alberta Museum in 2005) in Edmonton in 1976 just as be began the Ph.D. program. Within three seasons he had so much success at fieldwork that the province began planning a larger museum to hold the collection. The collection became part of the Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, which was completed in 1985 (the "Royal" epithet was added in 1990),[2] and Currie was appointed curator of dinosaurs.[1]

In 1986, Currie became the co-director of the joint Canada-China Dinosaur Project, with Dale Russell of the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa and Dong Zhiming of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing.[2]

Contributions to palaeontology Edit

Over the last 25 years he has worked on fossil discovery in Mongolia, Argentina, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park, and many other locations.

His contributions to paleontology include synonymizing the genera Troodon and Stenonychosaurus in 1987 (with the former name taking precedence). The similarities between the troodonts and birds made him a major proponent of the theory that dinosaurs are descended from birds.[6]

As part of the joint China-Canadian Dinosaur Project he helped describe two of the first dinosaur specimens from the lagerstätten of the Liaoning province in China that clearly showed the impression of feathers: Protarchaeopteryx[7][8] and Caudipteryx.[8] In contrast with the 1996 discovery of Sinosauropteryx, which only showed the impression of downy filaments, these were indisputably feathers.[6] This not only helped cement the theory that birds are descended from dinosaurs, but indicated that many dromaeosaurids were feathered.[9] This discovery made him a celebrity, featured in numerous popular articles and documentaries, and he even became one of the models for palaeontologist Alan Grant in the film Jurassic Park.[6]

In 1997, Currie teamed up with Microsoft's Chief Technical Officer Nathan Myhrvold to create a computer model demonstrating that diplodocids could snap their tails like whips, and create small sonic booms.[10] He was involved in the 1999 National Geographic "Archeoraptor" scandal.[11]

Currie became increasing skeptical of the orthodoxy that carnivorous dinosaurs were solitary animals as there was no evidence for his hypothesis that they might sometimes have lived in packs. However he tracked down a site mentioned by Barnum Brown and there found 12 specimens of Albertosaurus.[12]

Personal life Edit

Currie is married to palaeobotanist and palynologist Eva Koppelhus, and has three sons from a previous marriage.[citation needed]

Awards and recognition Edit

Selected works Edit

  • Currie, Philip J. (ed.) (1993). "Results from the Sino-Canadian Dinosaur Project". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 30: 1997–2272. 
  • Currie, Philip J. (ed.) (1996). "Results from the Sino-Canadian Dinosaur Project, Part 2". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 33: 511–648. 

References Edit

  1. ^ a b c "Currie, Philip J.". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Foundation. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0009228. Retrieved on 2008-07-02. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Tanke, Darren; Carpenter, Ken (eds.) (2001). Mesozoic Vertebrate life: New Research Inspired by the Paleontology of Philip J. Currie. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-33907-3. 
  3. ^ Currie, Philip J.; Padian, Kevin (eds.) (1997). Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs. Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-226810-5. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Biographies: Born 1949–1954". Calgary Herald. 2008-06-08. http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/features/greatest/story.html?id=71afcf88-ab0e-4bf4-ba2e-4b73d9f0ec9e. Retrieved on 2008-07-02. 
  5. ^ "Dr. Philip J Currie > Professor". Faculty of Science. University of Alberta Department of Biological Sciences. 2006-08-17. http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/faculty/philip_currie/. Retrieved on 2008-07-02. 
  6. ^ a b c d Purvis, Andrew (1998-07-06). "Call Him Mr. Lucky". Time 151 (26): 52–55. Archived from the original on 2001-02-10. http://web.archive.org/web/20010210172815/http://www.time.com/time/magazine/1998/int/980706/science.call_him_mr._luc4.html. Retrieved on 2008-07-03. 
  7. ^ Ji Qiang; Ji Shu-An (1997). "A Chinese archaeopterygian, Protarchaeopteryx gen. nov.". Geological Science and Technology (Di Zhi Ke Ji) 238: 38–41. . Translated by the Will Downs Bilby Research Center, Northern Arizona University, 2001.
  8. ^ a b Ji Qiang; Currie, Philip J.; Norell, Mark A.; Ji Shu-An (1998-06-25). "Two feathered dinosaurs from northeastern China" (pdf). Nature 393: 753–762. doi:10.1038/31635. Archived from the original on 2006-06-28. http://web.archive.org/web/20060628021703/http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/faculty/philip_currie/uploads/pdfs/1998/1998Caudipteryx.pdf. 
  9. ^ a b Lemonick, Michael D. (1998-07-06). "Dinosaurs of a Feather". Time 151 (26): 48–50. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,988668,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-07-03. 
  10. ^ Myhrvold, Nathan P.; Currie, Philip J. (1997). "Supersonic sauropods? Tail dynamics in the diplodocids". Paleobiology 23: 393–409. 
  11. ^ Sloan, Christopher P. (November 1999). "Feathers for T. rex". National Geographic (National Geographic Society) 196 (5): 98–107. 
  12. ^ "Extreme Dinosaurs". 2000. http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2000/extremedino_transcript.shtml. 
  13. ^ Bergman, B. (1998-12-21). "Maclean's honour roll: Philip Currie". Maclean's: 65. 

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