Phil Currie
Philip John Currie, AOE
Alberta Order of Excellence
The Alberta Order of Excellence is a civilian honour for merit in the Canadian province of Alberta. Instituted in 1979 when Lieutenant Governor Frank C...

 (born March 13, 1949) is a Canadian
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 palaeontologist and museum curator
A curator is a manager or overseer. Traditionally, a curator or keeper of a cultural heritage institution is a content specialist responsible for an institution's collections and involved with the interpretation of heritage material...

 who helped found the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology
Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology
The Royal Tyrrell Museum is a popular Canadian tourist attraction and a leading centre of palaeontological research noted for its collection of more than 130,000 fossils....

 in Drumheller, Alberta
Drumheller, Alberta
Drumheller is a town within the Red Deer River valley in the badlands of east-central Alberta, Canada. It is located northeast of Calgary...

 and is now a professor at the University of Alberta
University of Alberta
The University of Alberta is a public research university located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Founded in 1908 by Alexander Cameron Rutherford, the first premier of Alberta and Henry Marshall Tory, its first president, it is widely recognized as one of the best universities in Canada...

 in Edmonton
Edmonton is the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta and is the province's second-largest city. Edmonton is located on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Capital Region, which is surrounded by the central region of the province.The city and its census...

. In the 1980s he became the director of the Canada-China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 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
Feathered dinosaurs
The realization that dinosaurs are closely related to birds raised the obvious possibility of feathered dinosaurs. Fossils of Archaeopteryx include well-preserved feathers, but it was not until the early 1990s that clearly non-avialan dinosaur fossils were discovered with preserved feathers...

. He is one of the primary editors of the influential Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs, and his areas of expertise include theropods (especially Tyrannosauridae
Tyrannosauridae is a family of coelurosaurian theropod dinosaurs which comprises two subfamilies containing up to six genera, including the eponymous Tyrannosaurus. The exact number of genera is controversial, with some experts recognizing as few as three...

), the origin of birds, and dinosaurian migration patterns and herding behavior. He was one of the models for palaeontologist Alan Grant in the film Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park (film)
Jurassic Park is a 1993 American science fiction adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. It stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Martin Ferrero, and Bob Peck...



Currie received his Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

 in 1972, a Masters of Science from McGill University
McGill University
Mohammed Fathy is a public research university located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The university bears the name of James McGill, a prominent Montreal merchant from Glasgow, Scotland, whose bequest formed the beginning of the university...

 in 1975, and a Ph.D. in biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

 (with distinction) from the same institution in 1981. Both his masters and Ph.D. theses were on synapsid
Synapsids are a group of animals that includes mammals and everything more closely related to mammals than to other living amniotes. They are easily separated from other amniotes by having an opening low in the skull roof behind each eye, leaving a bony arch beneath each, accounting for their name...

s and early aquatic diapsid
Diapsids are a group of reptiles that developed two holes in each side of their skulls, about 300 million years ago during the late Carboniferous period. Living diapsids are extremely diverse, and include all crocodiles, lizards, snakes, and tuatara...


Currie became curator
A curator is a manager or overseer. Traditionally, a curator or keeper of a cultural heritage institution is a content specialist responsible for an institution's collections and involved with the interpretation of heritage material...

 of earth science
Earth science
Earth science is an all-embracing term for the sciences related to the planet Earth. It is arguably a special case in planetary science, the Earth being the only known life-bearing planet. There are both reductionist and holistic approaches to Earth sciences...

s at the Provincial Museum of Alberta (which became the Royal Alberta Museum
Royal Alberta Museum
The Royal Alberta Museum is located in Edmonton, Alberta and was named the Provincial Museum of Alberta until 24 May 2005 when Queen Elizabeth II visited, bestowing royal patronage. It has a natural history exhibit, a wildlife exhibit, an entomology exhibit, a Native Culture exhibit, as well as...

 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), and Currie was appointed curator of dinosaurs.

In 1986, Currie became the co-director of the joint Canada-China Dinosaur Project, with Dale Russell
Dale Russell
Dale A. Russell is a Canadian geologist/palaeontologist, currently Research Professor at The Department of Marine Earth and Atmospheric Sciences of North Carolina State University...

 of the Canadian Museum of Nature
Canadian Museum of Nature
The Canadian Museum of Nature is a natural history museum in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Its collections, which were started by the Geological Survey of Canada in 1856, include all aspects of the intersection of human society and nature, from gardening to gene-splicing...

 in Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

 and Dong Zhiming
Dong Zhiming
Dong Zhiming , from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, is one of China's leading paleontologists. He began working at the IVPP in 1962, learning from Yang Zhongjian who was director at the time...

 of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology
Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology
The Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of China is a prominent research institution and collections repository for fossils, including many dinosaur and pterosaurand cat poo specimens...

 in Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...


Contributions to palaeontology

Over the last 25 years he has worked on fossil
Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals , plants, and other organisms from the remote past...

 discovery in Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

, Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, Dinosaur Provincial Park
Dinosaur Provincial Park
Dinosaur Provincial Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located about two and a half hours drive southeast of Calgary, Alberta, Canada or , about a half hour drive, northeast of Brooks....

, Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park
Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park
Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park is a provincial park in Central Alberta, Canada, located about southeast of Red Deer and east of Trochu. The park is situated along the Red Deer River and features badlands topography...

, and many other locations.

His contributions to paleontology include synonymizing the genera Troödon
Troodon is a genus of relatively small, bird-like dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous period . Discovered in 1855, it was among the first dinosaurs found in North America...

and Stenonychosaurus in 1987 (with the former name taking precedence). The similarities between the troödonts and birds made him a major proponent of the theory that birds are descended from dinosaurs.

As part of the joint China-Canadian Dinosaur Project he helped describe two of the first dinosaur specimens from the lagerstätten of the Liaoning
' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the northeast of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "辽" , a name taken from the Liao River that flows through the province. "Níng" means "peace"...

 province in China that clearly showed the impression of feathers: Protarchaeopteryx
Protarchaeopteryx is a genus of turkey-sized feathered theropod dinosaur from China. Known from the Jianshangou bed of the Yixian Formation, it lived during the early Aptian age of the Early Cretaceous, approximately 124.6 million years ago...

and Caudipteryx
Caudipteryx is a genus of peacock-sized theropod dinosaurs that lived in the Aptian age of the early Cretaceous Period . They were feathered and remarkably birdlike in their overall appearance....

. In contrast with the 1996 discovery of Sinosauropteryx
Sinosauropteryx was the first genus of dinosaur outside of Avialae to be found with evidence of feathers. They were covered with "furry" coats of very simple filament-like feathers...

, which only showed the impression of downy filaments, these were indisputably feathers. This not only helped cement the theory that birds are descended from dinosaurs, but indicated that many dromaeosaurids were feathered. This discovery made him a celebrity, featured in numerous popular articles and documentaries.

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. He was involved in the 1999 National Geographic "Archeoraptor" scandal.

Currie became increasingly skeptical of the orthodox belief that large carnivorous dinosaurs were solitary animals, but there was no evidence for his hypothesis that they may have hunted in packs. However, circumstantial evidence came when he tracked down a site mentioned by Barnum Brown
Barnum Brown
Barnum Brown , a paleontologist born in Carbondale, Kansas, and named after the circus showman P.T. Barnum, discovered the second fossil of Tyrannosaurus rex during a career that made him one of the most famous fossil hunters working from the late Victorian era into the early 20th century.Sponsored...

 that featured 12 specimens of Albertosaurus
Albertosaurus is a genus of tyrannosaurid theropod dinosaur that lived in western North America during the Late Cretaceous Period, more than 70 million years ago. The type species, A. sarcophagus, was apparently restricted in range to the modern-day Canadian province of Alberta, after which...

from various age groups.

Personal life

Currie is a life-long science-fiction fan, and fan of the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Edgar Rice Burroughs was an American author, best known for his creation of the jungle hero Tarzan and the heroic Mars adventurer John Carter, although he produced works in many genres.-Biography:...

. He is married to palaeobotanist and palynologist Eva Koppelhus, and has three sons from a previous marriage.

Awards and recognition

  • 1981: Doctoral thesis nominated for the Canadian Society of Zoologist's best thesis of the year
  • 1988: Sir Frederick Haultain
    Frederick W. A. G. Haultain
    Sir Frederick William Alpin Gordon Haultain was a lawyer and a long serving Canadian politician and judge. His career in provincial and territorial legislatures stretched into four decades...

     Award for significant contributions to science in Alberta
  • 1998: Featured as one of 12 outstanding Canadians in Maclean's
    Maclean's is a Canadian weekly news magazine, reporting on Canadian issues such as politics, pop culture, and current events.-History:Founded in 1905 by Toronto journalist/entrepreneur Lt.-Col. John Bayne Maclean, a 43-year-old trade magazine publisher who purchased an advertising agency's in-house...

  • 1998: Featured on the front cover of the Canadian issue of Time
  • 1999: The American Association of Petroleum Geologists
    American Association of Petroleum Geologists
    The American Association of Petroleum Geologists is one of the world's largest professional geological societies with over 31,000 members as of 2007. The AAPG works to advance the science of geology , to promote technology, and to inspire high professional conduct...

    ' Michel T. Halbouty
    Michel T. Halbouty
    Michel Thomas Halbouty was an American geologist, petroleum engineer, and wildcatter. Credited with discovering more than 50 oil and gas fields, he twice declared bankruptcy, but came back each time to regain wealth...

     Human Needs Award
  • 1999: Elected to the Royal Society of Canada
    Royal Society of Canada
    The Royal Society of Canada , may also operate under the more descriptive name RSC: The Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada , is the oldest association of scientists and scholars in Canada...

  • 2001: The festschrift
    In academia, a Festschrift , is a book honoring a respected person, especially an academic, and presented during his or her lifetime. The term, borrowed from German, could be translated as celebration publication or celebratory writing...

     Mesozoic Vertebrate Life: New Research Inspired by the Paleontology of Philip J. Currie was published in his honor
  • 2003: Ranked as one of Canada's top five explorers by Time magazine
  • 2004: Michael Smith Award
  • 2006: ASTech Award
  • 2010: Alberta Order of Excellence
    Alberta Order of Excellence
    The Alberta Order of Excellence is a civilian honour for merit in the Canadian province of Alberta. Instituted in 1979 when Lieutenant Governor Frank C...

External links

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