BRANDON, MB — Some 65 million years ago, the Dromaeosaurus was a feathered carnivore, with razor-sharp teeth, sickle-like claws on its feet, and a tail that plumed several feet behind it. Today, a skeleton of this creature has made its home in the geology department of Brandon University.
“ Our latest recruit, yet to be named, will be a star attraction in the Faculty of Science for years to come,” said Dr. Austin Gulliver, the Dean of Science at BU.
This unique and rare gift from the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta is linked to another gift, one from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba (APEGM). Some of the professional fees collected from APEGM members, $15,000 in fact, were earmarked for educational purposes related to these fields of study and destined to be invested in items for the geology department at Brandon University.
“The idea is to encourage students to be aware of their professional obligations and to know that they have to become professionally registered to practice,” said Dr. A. Hamid Mumin, of the geology department.
APEGM’s financial gift was matched by the Faculty of Science. That $15,000 was part of a provincial government allocation of $450,000 earmarked for needed teaching equipment and material. The APEGM gift and the matched amount were used for the acquisition of teaching specimens to display in a new glassed-in cabinet. However, this new inhabitant at the Brodie Science Building on the Brandon University campus is much more than just a donation, as it will be a destination for the public as well as science students.
“Educating the public is almost as valuable as educating our students,” said Dr. Gulliver.
The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre (CFDC) as well as the Royal Tyrrell Museum (RTM) were approached for these teaching specimen. Both organizations have provided items for the new display — actual jaw bones of the world’s largest marine vertebrate fossil nicknamed “Bruce” from CFDC — and from RTM, the Dromaeosaurus, a museum-quality skeleton, and a large femur upon which it appears that the Dromaeosaurus is feasting. As well, mineral specimens have been acquired and added to the original collection.
“The Royal Tyrrell Museum didn’t want to loan or sell us anything. They asked for an exchange of services. We actually have two very highly qualified paleontologists in our faculty — David Greenwood and Rong-Yu Li. David has an interest in the museum and was quite willing to do some fossil identification for them,” said Dr. Mumin, who explained that bones found in a dig do not always translate to a complete skeleton. “They use them and make casts, then paint and that’s what you see on display. They wanted to cast something original, to make a display from scratch, so nobody else will have a display like this.”
Now that the Dromaeosaurus has arrived, it needs an identity. A naming contest, open to all Manitoba students from Kindergarten to Grade 6, will run until an open house on January 26, 2011. At that time, the creature will be unveiled to the public and the winner of the naming contest will be announced. More details about this event will be forthcoming.
For more information, please contact:
Joanne F. Villeneuve
P: (204) 727-9762