Dinosaur globetrotter honoured

(Edmonton) The search for dinosaur bones has taken University of Alberta paleontologist Phil Currie to both poles and many spots in between, and now his travels and many scientific accomplishments are being recognized by the Explorers Club of New York City.

Currie says he was shocked by news of the award, because historically the Explorers Club Medal recognized travel to remote, unexplored territories of the world. “There’s not too many unexplored areas left in the world,” said Currie. “For university researchers, the award means their particular field of study is opening up new territories of science.”

For 108 years the Explorers Club Medal has been handed out to people like Admiral Robert Peary for his expedition to the North Pole and astronaut Neil Armstrong for walking on the moon. Though Currie hasn’t left the planet in search of dinosaurs, he has been to the Arctic and Antarctic.

Currie’s two trips to the Antarctic stand out as his most memorable expeditions. “That’s where we learned a different perspective on our work,” said Currie. “We found that we could work in sub-zero conditions and still accomplish what we want to.” Last year in Antarctica, in an area half the size of a football field, Currie and his colleagues found fossils that could represent three different species of dinosaurs.

When he’s not digging in Alberta’s Badlands, or further afield in places like Argentina, China, Mongolia or Madagascar, Currie is busy supervising paleontology students, or writing scientific articles and books, or adding to his list of more than 1,200 media interviews on the subject of dinosaurs. The Explorer’s Club took all of Currie’s work into consideration for this award.

Currie says he isn’t worried about running out of places to look for dinosaur bones. “We only discovered about 1,000 species of dinosaur, and they were around for 150 million years,” said Currie. “When you realize we’ve identified more than 10,000 species of birds, which are dinosaurs, there’s still lots more digging to do for dinosaur bones in many different places around the world.”

The Explorers Club will give Currie its top honour March 17 in New York.