Philip J. Currie: Biography
Philip J. Currie has specialized in fossils from Cretaceous
sites (dating from the latter part of the dinosaur age) around the world.
He is particularly interested in the evolution and classification of carnivorous
dinosaurs (theropods) and their living descendants, birds. As part of the
ChinaCanada Dinosaur Project, he helped describe the recently discovered
feathered theropods (Protarchaeopteryx and Caudipteryx) of
China, which clear evidence of the relationship between birds and dinosaurs.
Other research has focused on dinosaur footprints, as well as dinosaur
growth and variation.
Currie is well known for his reconstructions of dinosaur
herding behaviour and migration. In particular, he has suggested that the
horned dinosaurs that left their remains in the "Centrosaurus bonebed"
of Dinosaur Provincial Park were herding animals caught in a torrential
flood while crossing a river. Currie has described other horned dinosaurs,
such as Pachycephalosaurus, as long-distance migrants, moving north
and south each year according to the seasons. These hypotheses are at the
heart of Currie's motivations as a palaeontologist - to imagine the dinosaurs
as living animals in their ancient environments and south each year according
to the seasons. At the heart of Currie's motivations as a palaeontologist
is to imagine the dinosaurs as living animals in their ancient environments.
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.
Much of Currie's success has been the result of cooperation
and teamwork. He has an ability to coordinate the efforts of others, and
has edited or co-edited a number of important collections of dinosaur-related
works, including the monumental Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs published
in 1997 by Academic Press. Dr. Currie has named dozens of new species in
China, Mongolia and North America, and has led or participated in major
expeditions to Mongolia, Argentina, Madagascar, Indonesia, south Africa
and Antarctica, and was recently inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence.
He was prominently involved in the Canada-China Dinosaur Project in the
late 1980s. The project was the first Chinese-Western collaboration since
the American museum expeditions to Outer Mongolia in the early part of
the century. Numerous important fossil discoveries were made through the
Canada-China Dinosaur Project. Among them was the identification of a new
species of theropods through the find of a group of young armoured dinosaurs
(Pinacosaurus) that perished in a sandstorm in the Gobi Desert. The project
helped forge important ties between palaeontologists from both countries,
greatly improving our collective understanding of the Late Cretaceous world.
The cooperation still continues, facilitating ongoing discoveries in palaeontology.
He was also one of the models for palaeontologist Alan Grant in the film
Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum
112 Wembley, Alberta T0H 3S0
(In 2015, a museum entitled to Philip J. Currie, the Philip J.
Currie Dinosaur Museum, was opened in Wembley, Alberta. The museum, designed
by Teeple Architects, celebrates one of the world’s richest dinosaur-bone
beds, Pipestone Creek)