05
February
2014
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19:30
America/Tegucigalpa

DinoStars share spotlight with local art

The science of dinosaur discovery and the art of painting come together in new exhibitions.

By GEOFF McMASTER

(Edmonton) Two of the University of Alberta’s most compelling recent dinosaur discoveries are going on public display, right next to an exhibit of Edmonton painting.

Starting Feb. 6 at Enterprise Square Galleries in downtown Edmonton, DinoStars will feature two specimens that have attracted widespread media attention for revealing the “softer side” of Alberta dinosaurs: the mummified Edmontosaurus regalis and the baby Chasmosaurus belli. The exhibition runs until March 8.

The baby Chasmosaurus ranks as one of the most exciting finds in the career of Phil Currie, the U of A’s star paleontologist and Canada Research Chair in Dinosaur Paleobiology. It’s the first time anyone has found a baby of this species intact in 150 years of digs at Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta’s badlands—or anywhere else, for that matter. Currie estimates the 1.5-metre-long fossilized baby was about three years old when it died, possibly from drowning, 72 million years ago.

“It’s a super specimen and I’m very lucky to be the guy that found it,” said Currie. “There’s no question this is one of the very best ones I’ve ever found.”

The duck-billed Edmontosaurus was discovered last year 75 kilometres west of Grande Prairie, Alta. The fossil, a “natural cast” so well preserved it’s been described as “mummified,” contains skin impressions confirming—for the first time—the existence of a fleshy head crest, or cockscomb.

“It really highlights how many surprises there can be in the fossil record when we get soft tissues preserved,” said Victoria Arbour, who worked on the fossil as a doctoral student. “Usually we only get the hard parts, like skeletons or shells, but animals can look really different on the outside as opposed to the skeleton.”

Fresh Paint: A new gloss on Edmonton’s painting scene

Also starting Feb. 6 is Fresh Paint: A Snapshot of Painting in Edmonton, which is billed as “challenging preconceptions of Edmonton’s painting scene.” A complementary exhibition, called Duets: Shared Ideas in Painting, explores different interpretations of ideas that artists past and present draw upon in their search for self-expression. Both of these exhibits run until April 12.

“Nowhere else in Edmonton can you currently see recent dinosaur research and community-curated art exhibitions under one roof,” said Janine Andrews, executive director of University of Alberta Museums. “With every new set of exhibitions we present at our Enterprise Square Galleries, we aim to inspire and to make the university’s current research and collaborations accessible to our local community.”

There are 29 collections across campus that comprise the University of Alberta Museums, totalling more than 17 million objects covering subjects from art to zoology. According to Currie, the dinosaur collection alone contains some 15,000 catalogued specimens, with a huge number in the vault yet to be catalogued.