“I couldn’t help it. I happen to have been born to do it.

I am sure that I would have been a rotten failure doing anything else.”

~ Ends Of The Earth ~

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lion's Paws: The Story of Famous Ink-Covered Hands.

Nellie Simmons Meier

Among many varied pleasures involved with building my Andrews collection has been the discovery of various quirky individuals that were in one way or another associated with Roy.  Today I introduce a Palmist [Fortune Teller] Palm Reader - Nellie Simmons Meier.

Meier published: Lion's Paws;  The Story of Famous Hands in 1937, published by Barrows Mussey, New York. Her act was somewhat popular among the well-to-do, and she managed to convince sixty-six celebrities from Movies, Sports, Dance, Literature, etc, to allow their hands to be inked up, and leave their impression on paper.  Among those who submitted to this were Irvin S. Cobb, Elbert Hubbard, Margaret Sanger, Alexander, Grand Duke of Russia, Walt Disney, Jascha Heifetz, George Gershwin, Howard Chandler Christy, Burton Holmes,  Amelia Earhart, and Roy Chapman Andrews.

Being able to peer into an inky print of somebody's palm, and divine their future would be a really great trick if anybody could actually do it.   To be very effective, it should be a controlled experiment with a double blind, where neither the palmist or his/her assistant knows the name or the sex of the individual.

Alas, this is not what Meier did.  Working with already well know celebrities, she expounds on character traits, and lifestyles that would have been easier to divine by picking up a newspaper.  

However, Ms. Meier did leave us a very interesting collection of autographed prints of famous people's palm prints.    Among Roy's fellow Explorinkers were  William Beebe, Raymond Ditmars, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Harvey W. Wiley, and Bernarr Macfadden.

Here is the entire write up on Roy Chapman Andrews as printed on pages 122-123.


Chapter 18. On Unknown Trails

"How," demanded an Editor who was considering the publication of some of my work, "do you get people who are scientists and great men of affairs to lend themselves to a thing like hand reading? Do they believe in it?" Many of them do not," I replied dryly, "and they have their hands read for that very reason." "But I don't see that."

"Scientists," I informed him, "and inventors, as well as men and women of great affairs, are and must be open minded persons. Most of them know nothing at all about the—as I believe and call it—SCIENCE of hand reading. They know something of the work of charlatans, but they also know of charlatans in medicine, in general science and in all affairs. Rather than cast a doubt upon a possible science of which they know nothing, they have extended their hands to me and have allowed me to read them. The very qualities that sent them out upon unknown trails and returned them as Lions made it imperative that I, as a hand reader, should have the opportunity to demonstrate my work. Some of these people have been impressed by my readings to a point where they have made a further investigation of the subject. But the most of them withhold judgment, in perfect courtesy to a possible fellow scientist upon a trail unknown to them, but not a false trail until it is proved to be false.

Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews, recently appointed head director of the Museum of Natural History in New York City, a scientist whose years of work have been crowded with honors, was perfectly willing to have me come to his office and read his hands. He readily made an appointment. After that I had to wait with patience. For the whimsical character who roamed the oceans from the Arctic to the East Indies in studies of whales, and who after that led the largest expeditions ever sent to Asia into the Gobi Desert, opening up that unknown region of the earth to motor traffic and bringing back to us knowledge of wide and varied character, from fossils to gold, proved to be a bit elusive. I kept three appointments before I saw Dr. Andrews, but it was not from lack of interest on his part or indeed on the part of the people who work with him. As I began the reading, the group grew in numbers. Dr. Andrews as a real sport of a scientist, did not mind. What I found in his hands I might shout to the listening world. But I felt a bit disturbed in making a frank reading. I said so, and the crowd melted away.

I was looking at the hands of a man of power—I think that the reader will know that by the prints shown. They are hands with many conflicting characteristics but dominated by few: firm hard square palms, the palms, of the man who sees the necessity for a practical foundation for what he does, and who will work out the plans essential to that foundation. Great independence in thought and action is shown in the wide flare between the third and fourth fingers, and coolness and courage in time of danger is disclosed in the high development of upper Mars, just under the heart line on the outside of the hand. Add to these a definite whorl shown upon the Mount of the Moon, into which the headline dips—indeed the whorl seems almost an obstruction to the headline in the left hand—and you have a man whose foresight is pronounced along intellectual lines. And top this with the most significant sign of all, the spatulate tip of the third finger, that certain indication of originality, and the double joints of the thumbs, an equally certain indication of love of the dramatic, and you have a condensed picture of Andrews, a courageous, independent, practical character with a gift of prescience and decided originality which will develop along dramatic lines. Certainly Andrews' expeditions have been dramatic.

There are less obvious traits that speak more intimately of the man himself. The thick, long first phalange of the thumb is that of a possessor of the power of iron discipline. The practical palms indicate a love of order; the short fingers show that he wants someone else to maintain that order. But if he must maintain it himself, he can. The length of his first finger shows a strong sense of responsibility and the length of the nail phalange of that finger adds integrity and a high sense of honor. Andrews will always live up to all responsibilities he undertakes, even against mighty odds. The length of his fourth finger, Mercury, shows tact, and the length of its first phalange, the gift of words. He prefers talking to writing. The nails are broader than they are long. Andrews is argumentative and introspective, sometimes mentally irritable, and apt to become belligerent. However, he has a very flexible thumb, and suavity comes to his aid accompanied by a delightful sense of humor that has saved him again and again, a sense of humor which is shown in the development of the mount of Mercury beneath the fourth finger.

On the hands of most famous men and women are definite lines under the third fingers. There are none in the hands of Dr. Andrews* But upon the mount under the third finger is a less usual sign, a circle upon the mount of Apollo, an indication of glory and of lasting success. 


Did she warn Roy that he would never return to Mongolia?; did she warn him that he would die of a painful heart attack?   Sadly, I expect not.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Comical Renderings ~ Modern Dragon Hunter. 1950

By popular demand, here for your edification and enjoyment is another rendering of the Andrews biography rendered into unintelligibility.  Roy Chapman Andrews Modern Dragon Hunter.  True Comics, No. 81, February 1950 [Copyrighted 1949] Anonymous.  I think this is a reprint of an earlier wartime printing, but have temporarily misplaced my reference.  If anybody knows, please drop me a line.

I am unsure of what sources the cartoonist [or his editor] drew upon for images to render this story, perhaps the previously presented Andrews of Asia.  It is a kooky rendering, and yet in its own way endearing.  With thanks to my old friend Staq Mavlen at Atomic Surgery who made all of the original scans.  Enjoy.

Click to Enlarge

Click Images to Enlarge

Click Images to Enlarge

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Comical Visions ~ Andrews of Asia. 1944

As a high profile public figure during the 1920's through 1940's  Roy Chapman Andrews was the subject of newspaper cartoons, illustrated biographies, and treatments in comic book format.  I recently discovered that Andrews had been rendered into cartoon form within the pages of "It Really Happened", Popular Heroes of Past and Present, published by Wm. H. Wise & Co.  Copyright Best Syndicated Features, Inc.  1944.  Volume 1, Number 3.

With a cover drawn by the illustrious Alex Schomburg, RCA shares the issue with Carlson's Raiders, Maid of the Margiris, Theodoric the Great, Rescue at Truk, General Antoine Henri Jomini, Second Lieutenant Ernest Childers, and Cabeza de Vaca.

Apart from Schomburg's action-packed cover illustration, the interior artists are not identified, and perhaps it is just as well - the art work is dreadful, as is the accuracy of the story telling.  If the other stories are told with as many factual errors as the Andrews adventure, then a generation of youth grew up with the wrong information, terribly, terribly wrong.

This comic may have done more to perpetuate the image that Andrews shot his way across the Gobi of China and Mongolia, than Andrews did in his own writings.  Still,  I hope you can ignore the outrageous stereotypes, incorrect animals and vehicles, and enjoy a good old fashioned comic from the Golden Age.

With apologies to my Mongolian Colleagues in Ulaanbaatar.

Click each image to see near full size.

Click each to see near full size.

Click image to see near full size.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Personalities ~ Edmund Heller 1875 - 1939

Edmund Heller.  From a lecture brochure Ca. 1912

In 1916-1917, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City sent an expedition under Roy Chapman Andrews to study the zoology of southern China, in particular Yunnan Province.  Andrews' wife, Yvette Borup Andrews, was the official photographer for the expedition.  The Andrews left in March 1916 and were joined by Edmund Heller at Lung-tao, China on July 20, 1916.

After spending some time near Foochow hunting tigers, the expedition left for Yunnan via Hong Kong, Hainan, Haiphong and Hanoi. The route of the expedition in Yunnan took them through Yunnan-Fu, Tali-Fu, Chien-Chuan-Chou, Li-Chiang and the Snow Mountain, Meng-Ting, Wa-Tien and Teng-Yueh Ting. They then crossed the border into Burma making their way to Rangoon via Bhamo and Mandalay. The expedition broke up at Bhamo with the Andrews heading for New York, via Rangoon, Calcutta, Bombay, Singapore and Japan.  Edmund Heller went on to Calcutta, Darjeeling, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canton and Shanghai.
In camp.  Fuchow, China, 1916.  Photograph taken by Yvette Borup Andrews.  As Yvette developed her glass negatives in the field under somewhat trying conditions, it is likely that the fingerprints on the right margin are hers.  This 'safe edge' of the glass negative would not normally be seen when used as a lantern slide or used to print photographs.  This image has never been published.

Detail of Camp Fuchow.  Left to Right: Yvette Borup Andrews, Edmund Heller, Roy Chapman Andrews, Harry Caldwell of 'Blue Tiger' fame. Note that all three men appear to have been in the midst of rolling cigarettes.  Photo by Y.B. Andrews  
This brief biography from Smithsonian Institution Archives :  Edmund Heller Papers

Edmund Heller was born in Freeport, Illinois on 21 May 1875. When he was thirteen, he moved with his parents to Riverside, California, which he thereafter considered his home. As a boy, he spent much time collecting birds and their eggs in the area near Riverside. He was joined in this collecting by Harvey M. Hall, later a noted botanist.
Heller entered Stanford University in 1896 and received his A.B. in 1901. An opportunity arose for Heller to collect on the Galapagos Islands during the Hopkins-Stanford Expedition in 1898, and together with Robert E. Snodgrass, Heller spent 7 months on the islands. In 1900, the United States Biological Survey employed Heller as assistant to Wilfred Hudson Osgood in his Alaskan investigations.
Following his graduation, Heller joined the Field Columbian Museum as western field collector and worked in California, Oregon, Lower California, Mexico and Guatemala. In 1907, Heller accompanied Carl Ethan Akeley on the Field Museum's African expedition.
Upon his return, Heller was appointed curator of mammals at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology of the University of California. While with the MVZ, Heller participated in the 1908 Alexander Alaskan expedition and made the report on the mammals collected.
Heller spent the years 1909-1912 with the Smithsonian-Roosevelt and the Rainey African Expeditions. 
In 1914, the United States Biological Survey conducted field investigations in Canada to secure information concerning the habits and distribution of large game mammals. Heller accompanied the Lincoln Ellsworth expedition to the Dease River-Telegraph Creek area of British Columbia and later to Alberta.
The National Geographic Society and Yale University jointly sponsored an expedition to Peru in 1915 to explore newly discovered ruins of an Incan civilization at Machu Picchu, northwest of Cuzco. Specialists in various fields were chosen to accompany the party. Heller, as expedition naturalist, supervised the collecting of 891 mammal specimens, 695 birds, about 200 fishes and several tanks of reptiles and amphibians.
In 1916, Heller joined Roy Chapman Andrews and Yvette Borup Andrews on the American Museum of Natural History Expedition to China. 
When Paul J. Rainey, with whom Heller had traveled to Africa, was appointed official photographer for the Czech army in Siberia, he invited Heller to accompany him to Russia. From the summer of 1918 until the end of World War I, they traveled by rail across Siberia to the Ural Mountains and back to their starting point.
In 1919, Heller took charge of the Smithsonian Cape-to-Cairo Expedition. Upon his return, he worked briefly for the Roosevelt Wild Life Experiment Station making a field study of large game animals in Yellowstone National Park. He was then appointed assistant curator of mammals at the Field Museum under Wilfred Hudson Osgood. During his six years in that position, Heller made trips to Peru in 1922-1923 and to Africa from 1923-1926.
Heller's trip to Africa was his last collecting effort. After his return, he resigned his position at the Field Museum and became director of the Milwaukee Zoological Garden, a position that he held from 1928 to 1935. From 1935 until his death in 1939, Heller was director of the Fleishhacker Zoo in San Francisco.

Cover of Lecture Brochure, Ca. 1929.  Collection of Clive Coy

Over the past 30+ years, I have read nearly everything written by Roy Chapman Andrews about his expedition to China with Edmund Heller.  There are several magazine articles, the popular account of the expedition itself was published in a book: Camps and Trails In China, [D. Appleton & Co., 1918] and Andrews' two autobiographies.  I have found it peculiar that Andrews had very little to say about Heller, and always referred to him as Mr. Heller, unlike other persons mentioned who were usually introduced once formally within the narrative, and then referred to by their first name, example Rev. Harry Caldwell, and after simply called Harry.

I would not normally make much of this, except within Under A Lucky Star is this rather suggestive mention of Heller during the Yunnan trip:

I wanted to explore Yunnan, the mountainous province of southeastern China, which margined the Tibetan plateau. The expedition would cost fifteen thousand dollars and I agreed to raise half of it among my friends if the Museum would provide the remainder.
I don't remember where all the money came from. I think Sidney M. Colgate, James B. Ford, Charles L. Bernheimer, George S. Bowdoin, and Henry C. Frick gave most of it. Anyway I got it, and by March 1916 we sailed on the Japanese ship Tenyo Maru. Edmond Heller was the other scientist of the expedition. Heller had accompanied Colonel Theodore Roosevelt on his African trip after he left the White House and was an excellent small mammal collector, although hardly as successful a field companion. 

[Excerpted from Under A Lucky Star.  The Viking Press, 1943.  Page 129]

Does anyone know what Andrews was making oblique reference to?

Click image to view near full size

click image to view near full size

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Sulphur Bottom Whale Model 1907

Despite his many years working for the American Museum of Natural History, Roy Chapman Andrews had only very limited hands-on involvement with the museum's exhibits.  One of his first projects was to assist in the construction of a life-like model of a Sulphur Bottom Whale, more commonly called a Blue Whale [Balaeoptera musculus].  This project was led by James L. Clark, himself a young member of the department who had not yet become famous as an artist and sculptor.  

Andrews told this story in several different versions in his books and popular magazine articles.  Andrews' first autobiography, Ends Of The Earth was sparingly illustrated, his second autobiography, Under A Lucky Star had none at all. 

Here then is a little known article published by Scientific American in 1907 with images of the model under construction.  Images of this model were published in National Geographic, May 1911 in Andrews article:  Shore Whaling, A World Industry, also in his two biographies Ends Of The Earth, and Under A Lucky Star; in each case they are attributed to the author.   In : American Museum Whale Collection, a December 1914 article by Andrews for The American Museum Journal, the exact same images are marked as copyright National Geographic Magazine.  

I have determined that the photographs were originally taken by a museum photographer named J. Otis Wheelock.  

I have provided the original text of the accompanying article immediately after this image of the cover.

The Whale In The American Museum of Natural History.
A Life-like Model of the Largest Living Mammal.
[By Anonymous.  Scientific American Supplement.  September 14, 1907]

The American Museum of Natural History in New York has recently added an exact model of a large whale to its mammalian collection, and the achieve­ment is one deserving of more than passing notice or credit. Relics of whales are common, from the huge jaws to be seen in many a seaside village to the more or less complete skeletons in museums. But there have been obvious difficulties in the way of preserving complete specimens. Not only is there the practical problem of-large size, but the.oily skin is almost impos­sible of natural-appearing preservation.
This model is the outcome of a notable forward movement in the policy of the museum. The old formula for "stuffing," say, a bear, was arsenical paste, wire, and a bale of hay. The skin was literally "stuffed" to a barrel-like' distortion, and the whole labor cost but a few dollars. To-day the skin is mounted over a model, the work of a sculptor who knows anatomy, and the final result may represent weeks of skilled labor. But it is a correct representa­tion of the animal as it lived.
When it was decided to add a whale model to the collection, the idea was to obtain a satisfactory facsimile of the real creature. The species chosen was the sulphur bottom, a whale which is common off the coast of Newfoundland, where regular shore sta­tions are maintained for its chase. This whale is the largest species known, and is indeed larger than any of the reptilian monsters of geology, of which actual traces have been found. The work was placed in the hands of Mr. Roy C. Andrews, of the museum staff, who visited Newfoundland, and was fortunate in secur­ing his data from a large whale measuring 76 feet.
From these data an exact model was made, scale one inch to one foot, and from this model the large one was plotted. The model was divided into sections, and its various dimensions accurately copied on paper ruled in squares. From these plans others of life size were enlarged for the use of the blacksmith, the carpenter, and other workers. The work was done in the large gallery where the whale now hangs. A working platform was constructed, and on this light T-irons were laid out to mark the backbone and the ventral lines  This framework was bolted together with plates to allow it to be divided into sec­tions of eight feet each, for transportation if required. This provision, however, proved unnecessary, as the finished whale now swings over the spot where its lines were laid down. Rigidity was given to the frame by cross bracing; and iron ribs were next added.  

These ribs, like the back and ven­tral lines, are accurately bent to the size and contour of the finished model, but are a little smaller; the final covering of laths being carried on a wooden framework fitted over the iron and projecting about a couple of inches beyond it. Up to the stage when the iron ribs were attached to one side, the model was lying on its side. 

Ropes were now rove through the rings in the ceiling, placed to bear the finished whale, and the framework was raised until it stood upright, resting on the platform. The second set of ribs was now added, giving the complete skeleton shape. The iron frames for the fins and the flukes were next bolted on, and a wooden framework fastened over the skeleton. 

On this framework laths were nailed . These laths were of basswood, two inches broad, and 3/16 inch thick; they were laid diagonally across the skeleton, and this wood was chosen as being soft and bending well to the frame­work. The framework being now completed, there remained the most important part of the work, from the public's point of view—the outer modeling and col­oring. The final outer skin is of papier mache. The whale was covered with wire screen of a mesh rather coarser than that used for windows in summer, and the papier mache was worked into this.

At this stage Mr. Andrews had the collaboration of Mr. J. L. Clark, the sculptor-anatomist of the museum. To Mr. Clark is due the external modeling, each detail of which is a close copy from life. The wonderful grooves along the lower jaw of the whale—grooves the use of which is not definitely known—are exact in number and position. The blowhole (just behind the hump on the head), the line of the meeting jaws, the tiny external orifice of the ear, and the curves around the eye, were a few of the details needing exact care.  The modeling completed, there remained the coloring, and here the thoroughness which has characterized each stage of the construction has been maintained. 

The body color of the whale is a light slate flecked with peculiar markings. Why the whale received its name "sulphur bottom" is not apparently known, but there is no trace of sulphur color in these fleckings; they circle the hinder parts of the body in patches of a lighter gray slate, and under the belly beneath the film they emerge into an almost solid band of white—as though the whale had been whitewashed. The blotches have been applied with an airbrush, and are successful in suggesting a local lack of coloring matter in the skin, rather than a wash of paint. Figs. 6 and 7 give a good idea of the completed specimen, and of the successful modeling and coloring.

The size of the gallery where the whale hangs allows visitors to obtain a good idea of the proportions of the monster, but handicaps the photographer. The two pictures reproduced show this limitation, and so a few dimensions may be added. The total length of the whale is 76 feet, and its greatest body breadth, across the shoulders just behind the blowhole, is 12 feet. At this point its girth is 36 feet. From tip to tip across the flukes measures 16 feet.
The weight of the original whale was estimated at 63 tons—8 tons of blubber, 8 tons of bones, 40, tons of flesh, and the blood, whalebone, and viscera ac­counting for the remaining 7 tons.
The sulphur bottom whale attains the largest size of any species, and the longest authentic record of length is 86 feet; this model therefore fairly repre­sents the size of the largest living creature. Off the coast of Newfoundland several hundreds are captured annually. Watch is kept on shore, and when a whale is sighted, a small steamer starts in chase. The cap­tured whale is towed ashore, where in several places machinery has been installed for cutting up the car­cass. Little goes to waste; the blubber yields oil, and parts of the viscera are turned into leather. The flesh and the bones are used in making fertilizer, and the whalebone has many uses, although that supplied by the sulphur bottom is not of the best quality.
Whale Model in Mammal Gallery, as seen from floor level of visitor

Here is one account by Andrews from his best selling Autobiography Under A Lucky Star.  1943 I had been in the Museum only a few months when my big chance came. In the Director's office I was introduced to a fussy little" gray-haired gentleman named Richardson. He was, Dr. Bumpus said, going to build a life-size model of a whale to hang in the third floor gallery-well. I was to be his assistant. was considerably frightened but tried not to show it. What I knew about whales was less than nothing. I had never met a whale in Wisconsin's Rock River! By that time, however, I had learned to keep my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open. No one could know how ignorant I was if I didn't talk. But the job wasn't as terrifying as it sounded for we were only to enlarge a scale model which Jim Clark had made under the direction of Dr. F. A. Lucas, then Director of the Brooklyn Museum. 

Construction details, however, were a hidden mystery to me, for Fve never had the slightest interest in mechanics. My mind doesn't run that way any more than to mathematics. But I got along all right because Richardson knew what he was about until we came to the paper covering. The framework of angle 
iron and bass wood strips was impressive, for the whale boasted a length of seventy-six feet. But the paper wouldn't work. It buckled and cracked and sank in between the ribs. Our whale looked awful. It seemed to be in the last stages of starvation. I used to dream about it at night, and the Director was in despair. 

Finally, he called Jimmy Clark and me to his office. "This whale is getting on my nerves," he said. "It is beyond all endurance. What shall we do?" Jimmy and I knew exactly what to do for we had spent 
many hours discussing that emaciated whale. "Fire the paper, gentlemen," we chorused, "and let us finish it with wire netting and papier-mache." The Director beamed. "Done. If you turn that wreck of a Cetacean into a fat, respectable whale, Fll give you both a knighthood." 

Jimmy and I hopped to it with a crew of twelve men. It was amazing what a well-regulated diet of papier-mache did for the beast. He lost that pitiful, starved, lost-on-dry-land appearance, his sides filled out and became as smooth as a rubber boot; we could almost feel him roll and blow as we built him up with 
our new tonic. After eight months, the job was done. During thirty-five years our whale has hung in the gallery and is still as good as new. He has been stared at by millions of eyes, and is still one of the most popular exhibits in the Museum. 
Roy C Andrews  November 16, 1907

An interesting account of  the Newfoundland Blue whale and this model can be found at:  Acadiensis, Vol. XXVII, No. 1 Autumn/Automne 1997   The Construction and Display of the First Full-Scale Model of a Blue Whale: The Newfoundland Connection.  By Chesley W. Sanger, and Anthony B. Dickinson Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Article From Edmonton Journal: New Dinosaur Museum

Dr. Philip J. Currie, Dr Eva Koppelhus, and Brian Brake.  
Photo by Laura Beauchamp

EDMONTON — Philip Currie is well-accustomed to his life’s work finding its way into museums. Now, Alberta’s best-known paleontologist will have to get used to his name adorning the front of one.
A new $26.4-million facility near Grande Prairie will be called the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum.
“It’s a funny feeling, it’s strange. In my wildest dreams I wouldn’t have expected it,” Currie, 62, said after the announcement was made this week. “Once I got over the shock of finding out they wanted to do this, I said I would because it’s an amazing honour.”
West of Grande Prairie, the Pipestone Creek fossil bed has already yielded more than 3,500 complete bones and samples from more than 40 animals.
Currie was one of the first scientists to do work in the area, back in the 1970s, shortly after he came to Alberta. He believes a new museum in the area will educate Albertans and tourists to the fact that the entire province is a fine source of fossils, not just the well-known Drumheller area and its Royal Tyrrell Museum.
“The nice thing about two museums is to expand thinking beyond Drumheller, to the larger package. The whole province is incredibly rich in these matters.”
The museum will also provide paleontologists with two bases to work and store fossils in the province.
Brian Brake, executive director of the project, said Currie’s long association with the area and his international prominence made him an easy choice. “We wanted someone who gave us instant recognition.”
The museum’s previous working title was River of Death Discovery Dinosaur Museum, a reference to the mass drowning of a herd of animals in the late Cretaceous period that provided the area with many of its fossils. However, Brake said the name turned many people off. One corporate sponsor refused to support the project unless the name was changed, Brake said.
“What they wanted was a name more associated with the living, and hopefully that’s me,” Currie said with a laugh
The museum will be in the town of Wembley, on Highway 43, near Grande Prairie. If all the funding falls into place, Brake said it is possible to break ground on the project in August or September.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Breaking News ~ The Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum

New Dinosaur Museum Gets A Name

Philip Currie uncovers the complete skull of an Ornithomimid dinosaur.
Dinosaur Provincial Park

Announced today:  A new palaeontology museum to be constructed near Wembley, Alberta, Canada will officially be known as the Phillip J Currie Dinosaur Museum, in honour of Dr. Phil Currie.

Dr. Philip J. Currie is a world renowned paleontologist who helped found the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology near Drumheller, Alberta.

He has also been instrumental in the development of several Grand Prairie Region dinosaur sites, including the Pipestone Creek bonebed, over the past 25 years.  Among his many publications, Dr. Currie co-authored a monograph on the bonebed's unique dinosaur; Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai.

Philip Currie uncovering a specimen in Dinosaur Provincial Park, 2010

Dr. Philip J. Currie is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Dinosaur Palaeobiology at the University of Alberta.

Special Commondations
Research Associate at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology
Received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws at the University of Calgary (June 2008)
Received the Alberta Award of Excellence [2010]

Research Interests
Works on dinosaurs, focusing on problems with growth and variation, the anatomy and relationships of carnivorous dinosaurs, and the origin of birds. Has a long term goal of understanding the rich Cretaceous ecosystem of Dinosaur Park , and contemporaneous faunas and habitats of other sites in western North America. Is also interested in what can be learned about dinosaurian behaviour, including annual and intercontinental migrations.
Interested in dinosaurs since childhood, he finds that the excitement of discovery (fossils in the field, and ideas in the "lab") constantly renews his interest.
Fieldwork connected with his research has been concentrated in Alberta, British Columbia, the Arctic, Argentina and China. Work on the Centrosaurus bonebed, the origin of birds, "feathered" dinosaurs, hadrosaur nesting sites and the Canada-China Dinosaur Project have attracted the greatest international attention.

"Happy is the boy who discovers the bent of his life-work during childhood".

                        - Sven Hedin

Congratulations Phil.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Alberta's "Cretaceous Park"

While dinosaurs have been discovered from our chilling Arctic to the pounding surf of the Bay of  Fundy in Nova Scotia, nowhere are they more abundant than in the Badlands of Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park.  This small area of 73 square kilometers has produced more than 250 dinosaur skeletons representing  36 different species, and another 84 species of vertebrates such as birds, crocodiles and pterosaurs. 
            The 120 vertical meters of Upper Cretaceous  [73 - 78 million years BP] sediments in the park were exposed by the meltwaters of retreating glaciers 12,000 - 14,000 years ago.  It was not until the 1850’s  as geologists explored the prairies for important resources like coal that they also discovered dinosaur bones.  As few scientists in Canada knew anything about the giant reptiles, first discovered in Europe during the 1820’s, our first specimens were sent to researchers in Europe and America. 
American Museum of Natural History Scow and crew on Red Deer River, Alberta Badalnds.

            By 1909,  dinosaur bone from Alberta attracted the attention of American dinosaur hunter Barnum Brown from the American Museum of Natural History in New York.  Brown and his crew started working on the Red Deer River the following year, and by 1912 they had set up camp within current park boundaries.  Brown’s impressive collections included complete skeletons of horned dinosaurs, plant-eating hadrosaurs, and the meat-eater Gorgosaurus.  Brown found so many dinosaurs that he sent them back to New York by the train boxcar load.  
Hauling crates of dinosaur specimens out by wagon, using a route which is now the main modern paved road into Dinosaur Provincial Park

            The number of dinosaurs leaving Canada in a single summer caused concern, but rather than banning foreign collectors, the Geological Survey of Canada hired its own team of dinosaur hunters in 1912 to collect for Canada, Charles Sternberg and his three sons.  This period of intense, but friendly, competition became known as the “Great Dinosaur Rush” [1912 - 1917].  Dinosaurs collected by the Sternbergs became the first to be put on display in Canada, where the skeletons fascinated the public, and contributed to dinosaurs remaining popular today. 

Modern Reprint of C. M. Sternberg's classic account of Hunting Dinosaurs in the Badlands of the Red deer River, Alberta, Canada

            This early work set the stage for more than 80 years of successful fossil collecting in the park, and led directly to the park being named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.  In 1987, the Government of Alberta acknowledged the significance of the park’s fossil deposits by building the research station and field laboratory of the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Dinosaur Park, where researchers from around the world continue to study its overwhelming richness.