Philip J. Currie

Philip John Currie AOE FRSC (born March 13, 1949) 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.[2][3] He is one of the primary editors of the influential Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs,[4] and his areas of expertise include theropods (especially Tyrannosauridae), the origin of birds, and dinosaurian migration patterns and herding behavior.[1] He was one of the models for palaeontologist Alan Grant in the film Jurassic Park.[5]

Phil Currie

Philip Currie, Edmonton dinosour dig 2014
Currie in 2014
BornMarch 13, 1949 (age 70)[1][2]
ResidenceEdmonton, Alberta, Canada
Alma mater
Known forDinosaurs
Spouse(s)Eva Koppelhus
Scientific career
ThesisThe Osteology and Relationships of Aquatic Eosuchians from the Upper Permian of Africa and Madagascar (1981)
Doctoral advisorRobert L. Carroll


Currie received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto in 1972, a Master of Science degree from McGill University in 1975, and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in biology (with distinction) from the same institution in 1981.[6] His master's and PhD theses were on synapsids and early aquatic diapsids respectively.[3]

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 he began the PhD 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),[3] and Currie was appointed curator of dinosaurs.[2]

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.[3]

Contributions to palaeontology

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

His contributions to palaeontology include synonymizing the genera Troodon and Stenonychosaurus in 1987 (with the former name taking precedence) and later reversing this in 2017. The similarities between troodontids and birds made him a major proponent of the theory that birds are descended from dinosaurs.[5]

As part of the joint China-Canadian Dinosaur Project he helped describe two of the first dinosaur specimens from the lagerstätten of the Liaoning in China that clearly showed feather impressions: 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.[5] This not only helped cement the theory that birds are descended from dinosaurs, but indicated that many dromaeosaurids were feathered.[9] He was later 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.[10] He was involved in exposing a composite specimen that had been the subject of the 1999 National Geographic "Archeoraptor" scandal.[11]

Currie became increasingly sceptical 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 that featured 12 specimens of Albertosaurus from various age groups.[12]

Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum

In 2015 the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, was opened in Wembley, Alberta. It is located about a 15-minute drive west of Grande Prairie, and about 500 kilometres (310 mi) northwest of Edmonton. The museum was designed by Teeple Architects, and has won several awards. It celebrates the Pipestone Creek bone bed, one of the world's richest dinosaur-bearing bone beds.[13],

Personal life

Philip Currie
Currie in his office

Currie is a lifelong fan of science-fiction and the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. He is married to the Danish palaeobotanist and palynologist Eva Koppelhus,[14] and has three sons from a previous marriage.

Awards and recognition

Dinosaur species named in honour of Currie include Quilmesaurus curriei (Coria, 2001), Epichirostenotes curriei (Sullivan et al., 2011), Teratophoneus curriei (Carr et al., 2011), Philovenator curriei (Xu et al., 2012), and Albertavenator curriei (Evans et al., 2017).


As one of the world's foremost palaeontologists, Currie has been featured in many films, programs in radio and television, as well as in newspapers.[18] Apart from this, he has also been accessorial to many books:

  • (with Carpenter K); Dinosaur Systematics: Approaches and Perspectives (Cambridge University Press, 1990), ISBN 0-521-43810-1.
  • (with Sovak J); The flying dinosaurs: the illustrated guide to the evolution of flight (Red Deer College Press, 1991).
  • (with Spinar V.Z. & Sovak J); Great Dinosaurs: From Triassic Through Jurassic to Cretaceous (Borders Press, 1994).
  • (with Koppelhus E.B.); 101 Questions about Dinosaurs, (Dover Publications, 1996) ISBN 0-486-29172-3.
  • (with Padian K); Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs (Academic Press, 1997) ISBN 0-12-226810-5.
  • (with Mastin C.O. & Sovak J); The Newest and Coolest Dinosaurs (Grasshopper Books, 1998).
  • (with Tanka S, Sereno P.J. & Norell M); Graveyards of the dinosaurs: what it's like to discover prehistoric creatures (Hyperion Books for Children, 1998).
  • (with Sovak J & Felber E.P), A Moment in Time with Troodon (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2001).
  • (with Koppelhus E.B. & Sovak J); A Moment in Time with Sinosauropteryx (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2001).
  • (with Felber E.P. & Sovak J); A Moment in Time with Albertosaurus (Troodon Productions, 2001).
  • (with Koppelhus E.B. & Sovak J); A Moment in Time with Centrosaurus (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2001).
  • (with Koppelhus E, Orsen M.J., Norell M, Hopp T.P., Bakker R; Feathered Dragons: Studies on the Transition from Dinosaurs to Birds (Indiana University Press, 2004) ISBN 0-253-34373-9.
  • (with Špinar Z.V., Spinar V.S. & Sovak J); The Great Dinosaurs: A Study of the Giants' Evolution (Caxton Editions, 2004).
  • (with Koppelhus E.B.); Dinosaur Provincial Park: a spectacular ancient ecosystem revealed, Vol. 1 (Indiana University Press, 2005) ISBN 0-253-34595-2.
  • (with Tanke D.H. & Langston W); A new horned dinosaur from an Upper Cretaceous bonebed in Alberta (NRC Research Press, 2008).

Selected works

  • Currie, Philip J. (ed.) (1993). "Results from the Sino-Canadian Dinosaur Project". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 30 (10): 1997–2272. doi:10.1139/e93-175.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • Currie, Philip J. (ed.) (1996). "Results from the Sino-Canadian Dinosaur Project, Part 2". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 33 (4): 511–648. doi:10.1139/e96-040.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Biographies: Born 1949–1954". Calgary Herald. June 8, 2008. Archived from the original on June 27, 2008. Retrieved July 2, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d "Currie, Philip J". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Foundation. Retrieved July 2, 2008.
  3. ^ 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 978-0-253-33907-2.
  4. ^ Currie, Philip J.; Padian, Kevin, eds. (1997). Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs. Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-226810-6.
  5. ^ a b c d Purvis, Andrew (July 6, 1998). "Call Him Mr. Lucky". Time. 151 (26): 52–55. Archived from the original on January 12, 2005. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  6. ^ "Dr. Philip J Currie > Professor". Faculty of Science. University of Alberta Department of Biological Sciences. August 17, 2006. Retrieved July 2, 2008.
  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 (June 25, 1998). "Two feathered dinosaurs from northeastern China" (PDF). Nature. 393 (6687): 753–762. doi:10.1038/31635. Archived from the original (pdf) on December 17, 2008.
  9. ^ a b Lemonick, Michael D. (July 6, 1998). "Dinosaurs of a Feather". Time. 151 (26): 48–50. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
  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. 196 (5): 98–107.
  12. ^ "Extreme Dinosaurs". 2000.
  13. ^ Jones, Jenny (August 5, 2015). "Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum". Architect Magazine.
  14. ^ "Dino Hunter". Discover.
  15. ^ Bergman, B. (December 21, 1998). "Maclean's honour roll: Philip Currie". Maclean's: 65.
  16. ^ Mertl, Steve (November 7, 2012). "Dan Aykroyd taking a big interest in Canuck dinosaurs – but not of the film variety".
  17. ^ "Dig Deep: A Gala Fundraiser & The Betsy Nicholls Award". Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  18. ^ "Honorary Degrees: 2008 Recipients of Honorary Degree", University of Calgary homepage.

External links


Apatoraptor ("Apatè robber") is a genus of caenagnathid dinosaur which contains a single species, A. pennatus. The only known specimen was discovered in the Campanian-age Horseshoe Canyon Formation of Alberta.


Atrociraptor (meaning "savage robber") is a genus of dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian stage) of Alberta, Canada.

The type (and only) specimen of Atrociraptor, holotype RTMP 95.166.1, was discovered by Wayne Marshall in 1995, in layers of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation also containing an Albertosaurus bonebed, near Drumheller. This bonebed is located at the top of Unit 4 of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation, which dates to about 68.5 million years ago. The only known specimen consists of parts of the upper and lower jaws—both premaxillae, a right maxilla, both dentaries—teeth and numerous small fragments. The skull appears to have been unusually short and tall. The teeth are relatively straight, but they emerge from the tooth sockets at an angle to the jaw line, resulting in a strongly raked row of teeth. A number of isolated teeth (previously referred to Saurornitholestes) have also been recovered from the Horseshoe Canyon Formation; they can be recognized by their unusually large serrations.

In 2004 Philip J. Currie and David Varricchio named and described the type species of Atrociraptor: Atrociraptor marshalli. The generic name is derived from the Latin atrox, "savage", and raptor, "seizer". The specific name honours Marshall.In 2010 Gregory S. Paul estimated its length at two metres, its weight at fifteen kilogrammes. Atrociraptor differs from Bambiraptor and other velociraptorines in its more isodont dentition—the teeth have different sizes but the same form—and short deep snout. A skull opening, the maxillary fenestra, is relatively large and positioned right above another opening, the promaxillary fenestra, a condition not known from other species.

Atrociraptor was by its describers assigned to the Velociraptorinae within a larger Dromaeosauridae. However, in 2009 Currie published a cladistic analysis showing Atrociraptor to be a member of the Saurornitholestinae.


Bambiraptor is a Late Cretaceous, 72-million-year-old, bird-like dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur described by scientists at the University of Kansas, Yale University, and the University of New Orleans.

The holotype fossil is less than one meter long, although this specimen appears to be a juvenile, and it is possible that Bambiraptor is really just a juvenile Saurornitholestes. Because of its small size, it was named Bambiraptor feinbergi, after the familiar Disney movie character (the name literally translates to "Bambi thief") and the surname of the wealthy family who bought and lent the specimen to the new Graves Museum of Natural History in Florida.


Caenagnathasia ('recent jaw from Asia') is a small caenagnathid oviraptorosaurian theropod from the Late Cretaceous of Uzbekistan.

Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC) is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of Canada judges to have "made remarkable contributions in the arts, the humanities and the sciences, as well as in Canadian public life".As of 2017, there are over 2000 living Canadian fellows, including scholars, artists, and scientists such as Margaret Atwood, David Cronenberg, Philip J. Currie and Demetri Terzopoulos.There are four types of fellowship:

Honorary Fellows (a title of honour)

Regularly Elected Fellows

Specially Elected Fellows

Foreign Fellows (neither residents nor citizens of Canada)


Fukuiraptor ("thief of Fukui") was a medium-sized megaraptoran theropod dinosaur of the Early Cretaceous (either Barremian or Aptian) that lived in what is now Japan.


Gobisaurus is an extinct genus of herbivorous basal ankylosaurid ankylosaur from the Upper Cretaceous of China (Nei Mongol Zizhiqu). The genus is monotypic, containing only the species Gobisaurus domoculus.


Gryphoceratops is an extinct genus of leptoceratopsid ceratopsian dinosaur known from the Late Cretaceous of Alberta, southern Canada.


Ischioceratops is an extinct genus of small ceratopsian dinosaur that lived approximately 69 million years ago during the latter part of the Cretaceous Period in what is now China. Ischioceratops was a small sized, moderately-built, ground-dwelling, quadrupedal herbivore, whose total body length has been estimated to be about 2 meters. The ceratopsians were a group of dinosaurs with parrot-like beaks which fed on vegetation and thrived in North America and Asia during the Cretaceous Period, which ended approximately 66 million years ago, at which point they all became extinct. Its name refers to the peculiar shape of the ischiatic bones.Ischioceratops existed in the Wangshi Group during the late Cretaceous. It lived alongside centrosaurines, saurolophines, and tyrannosaurines. The most common creatures in the formation were Sinoceratops and Zhuchengtyrannus.


Machairasaurus is a genus of oviraptorid dinosaur which was found in the Bayan Mandahu Formation, China dating to the late Cretaceous period.During the Sino-Canadian expeditions of 1988 and 1990 some skeletons of unknown oviraptorosaurians were discovered by Philip J. Currie in Inner Mongolia. Based on two of these a new genus was named and described by Nicholas R. Longrich, Currie and Dong Zhiming in 2010 with as type species Machairasaurus leptonychus. The generic name is derived from Greek μάχαιρα (makhaira), "short scimitar". The specific name is derived from Greek λεπτός (leptos), "slender", and ὄνυξ (onyx), "claw". The species name as a whole refers to the sabre-like claws of the hand.The holotype, IVPP V15979, was found in layers of the Bayan Mandahu dating from the late Campanian. It mainly consists of a left frontlimb, including the lower end of the lower arm, two carpal bones and a complete hand. Also some fragmentary foot elements were present. The other find is the paratype, IVPP V15980, consisting of a very fragmentary skeleton including tail vertebrae, chevrons, ribs, phalanges of the hands, fragments of the second and fourth metatarsals and pedal phalanges.Five oviraptorid specimens associated with a nest, the female having been found brooding near the eggs, may belong to Machairasaurus.Machairasaurus was a small bipedal theropod. The describers established a single autapomorphy, unique derived trait: the hand claws are very elongated and blade-like in side view, with a length four times that of the joint height. The long claws would be proof that basal oviraptorids used their hands to pull down branches; the more curved claws of more derived forms would have served to dig up roots.Machairasaurus was in 2010 assigned to the Oviraptoridae, more precisely to the Ingeniinae. It formed a smaller clade with "Ingenia" yanshini, Heyuannia huangi, Conchoraptor gracilis, and Nemegtomaia barsboldi.


Mercuriceratops is an extinct genus of herbivorous chasmosaurine ceratopsid dinosaur known from the Late Cretaceous (Campanian stage) of Alberta, Canada and Montana, United States. It contains a single species, Mercuriceratops gemini.


Nebulasaurus is an extinct genus of basal eusauropod dinosaur known from the early Middle Jurassic Zhanghe Formation (Aalenian or Bajocian stage) of Yunnan Province, China. It is known only from the holotype braincase LDRC-v.d.1. A phylogenetic analysis found Nebulasaurus to be a sister taxon to Spinophorosaurus from the Middle Jurassic of Africa. This discovery is significant paleontologically because it represents a clade of basal eusauropods previously unknown from Asia.


Richardoestesia is a medium-sized (about 100 kilograms (220 lb)) genus of theropod dinosaur from the late Cretaceous Period of what is now North America. It currently contains two species, R. gilmorei and R. isosceles.


Rinchenia is a genus of Mongolian oviraptorid dinosaur from the late Cretaceous Period. The type (and only known) species, Rinchenia mongoliensis, was originally classified as a species within the genus Oviraptor (named Oviraptor mongoliensis by Rinchen Barsbold in 1986), but a re-examination by Barsbold in 1997 found differences significant enough to warrant a separate genus. The name Rinchenia was coined for this new genus by Barsbold in 1997, though he did not describe it in detail, and the name remained a nomen nudum until used by Osmólska et al. in 2004.Rinchenia is known from a single specimen (GI 100/32A) consisting of a complete skull and lower jaw, partial vertebral column, partial forelimbs and shoulder girdle, partial hind limbs and pelvis, and a furcula ("wishbone"). While Rinchenia was about the same size as Oviraptor (about 1.5 meters, or 5 ft long), several features of its skeleton, especially in the skull, show it to be distinct. Its skeleton was more lightly built and less robust than that of Oviraptor, and while the crest of Oviraptor is indistinct because of poor fossil preservation, Rinchenia had a well-preserved, highly developed, dome-like casque which incorporated many bones in the skull that are free of the crest in Oviraptor.


Shidaisaurus is a genus of metriacanthosaurid dinosaur. Its fossil was found in early Middle Jurassic-age rocks of the Upper Lufeng Formation in Yunnan, China. It is known from a partial skeleton, holotype DML-LCA 9701-IV, found at the bottom of an assemblage of nine dinosaur individuals, lacking most of the tail vertebrae, ribs, pectoral girdle, and limb bones. Shidaisaurus was described in 2009 by Wu and colleagues. The type species is S. jinae. Generic name and specific name in combination refer to the Jin-Shidai ("Golden Age") Company that exploits the Jurassic World Park near the site.

This theropod was about 6 metres (20 ft) long and it weighed around 700 kilograms (1,500 lb).


Sinraptor is a genus of metriacanthosaurid theropod dinosaur from the Late Jurassic. The name Sinraptor comes from the Latin prefix "Sino", meaning Chinese, and "Raptor" meaning robber. The specific name dongi honours Dong Zhiming. Despite its name, Sinraptor is not related to dromaeosaurids (often nicknamed "raptors") like Velociraptor. Instead, it was a carnosaur distantly related to Allosaurus. Sinraptor and its close relatives were among the earliest members of the Jurassic carnosaurian radiation. Sinraptor still remains the best-known member of the family Metriacanthosauridae, with some older sources even using the name "Sinraptoridae" for the family.


Unescoceratops is a genus of leptoceratopsid ceratopsian dinosaurs known from the Late Cretaceous of Alberta, southern Canada. It contains a single species, Unescoceratops koppelhusae.

Yulong mini

Yulong is an extinct genus of derived oviraptorid theropod dinosaur known from the Late Cretaceous Qiupa Formation of Henan Province, central China. It contains a single species, Yulong mini. It is known from many juvenile specimens that represent some of the smallest known oviraptorids.


Zaraapelta is an extinct genus of herbivorous ankylosaurid thyreophoran dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia. The type species is Zaraapelta nomadis, named and described by Arbour et alii in 2014. Zaraapelta is known from a single skull from the Barun Goyot Formation. It was found to be closest to Tarchia in the phylogenetic analysis within its description.


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