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Last updateTue, 16 Jul 2019 4pm

$9.3 million Tyrrell expansion opens

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    There’s a lot more prehistoric stomping ground at the Royal Tyrrell Museum now that the 1,300 square metre museum expansion opened Friday. 

A bronze-casted Albertosaurus skeleton looms in the middle of the Learning Lounge, a part of the $9.3 million expansion which gives visitors a place to rest, relax, recharge (their devices, too, with the new phone charging lockers), enjoy gender-neutral bathrooms, an eating area, and interact with displays and interactive learning stations. 

Tyrrell executive director Andy Neuman said the expansion is the first time the museum has “expanded its footprint” and said the hands on displays will “truly enhance the learning experience.” 

“We are proud to be the home of such a wonderful cultural gem, and this new expansion will pay dividends to all people fortunate enough to visit for decades to come,” said Drumheller-Stettler MLA Nate Horner, who spoke at the event along with Leela Sharon Aheer Alberta Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism, and Status of Women and Minister of Infrastructure Prasad Panda. 

“The Royal Tyrrell Museum is one of Canada’s most visited museums and I’m so proud that the Government of Alberta has invested in its future,” Aheer said.

The expansion was cofunded by the provincial government ($5.7 million) and the federal government ($3.595 million) from the Department of Canadian Heritage. 

The Tyrrell welcomes over 430,000 visitors a year from all over the world.

70-million-year-old ‘sea monster’ collected by Tyrrell staff

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   A 70-million-year old, komodo dragon-like “sea monster” is in collections at the Royal Tyrrell Museum this week after being unearthed at a Lethbridge mine earlier in June. 

The eight foot long specimen of a mosasaurus, an ocean prowling carnivore with sharp, slender teeth, was found by a diligent heavy equipment operator who then contacted palaeontologists at the Royal Tyrrell Museum. It isn’t a complete specimen but includes the skull and about half of the body.  

“It’s well preserved, it should tell us a lot about the animal,” says Dan Spivak, head of the museum’s resource management program. “We have a few other specimens, I’m not sure how many from that area, but each specimen tells us something different and something unique about how this animal evolved, how it interacted with its environment, how and what it ate, that sort of thing.”

“Often times when people think of a sea monster, the mosasaurus is what tends to come to mind. In some ways it was a bigger komodo dragon type animal but would have a longer, pointier skull, and flippers and a tail more adapted to swimming than walking on land,” Spivak says. “They seemed to be generalists that were feeding on several different things, but definitely a carnivore.”

On June 12, miners using track hoes came across the specimen encased in shale. Typically, the museum has the company move to another part of the mine to continue working. Mine staff sent photos to the museum and later that week a small reconnaissance crew visited the site to assess what kind of equipment would be needed and to generate a timeline. A larger crew was then sent to excavate the specimen from the rock, with the help of the mine’s heavy equipment, where it was put in a jacket and transported by road to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. 

The specimen will remain in collections until it is processed, analyzed, and then museum staff will determine whether it will be displayed or stored in their collections. The process can take months depending on how much preparation the specimen needs and the type of stone encasing it. 

Part of Spivak’s job is to work with companies to ensure palaeontological finds are reported and processed legally and he credits the diligence of the mine operators who found the specimen.

“There is a legal requirement to report this sort of thing, but also companies do it trying to preserve an important part of Alberta’s history.” 

But that isn’t always the case.

“Sometimes you hear stories that it isn’t carelessness but there is active intent to basically skirt the law -- ‘if nobody sees it, nobody knows it exists’ sort of thing -- and so we’ve been trying to get the word out that we don’t shut projects down when we find fossils. Our goal is to get out to where these fossils are located and get them out of the ground as quickly and safely as possible.”


Photos courtesy of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. Illustration by Julius T. Csotonyi.

Outdoor pool opening delayed

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Due to discovering a leak, the Town of Drumheller is delaying the opening of the outdoor pool.

Town crews have been working over the last couple of weeks to get the outdoor pool open for the season. 

While filling the pool with water, it was discovered that more than 30 per cent of the pool’s water was lost in a 24 hour period. 

The crews are working on finding and fixing the leak. Once the leak has been identified and the pipes repaired, the pool will be filled and tested and then be ready to open up to the public. 

“The timeline to fill, heat, and receive a water sample result is about eight days which means the pool will not be open by Canada Day,” said Julia Fielding communications officer for the Town of Drumheller. “We are all very frustrated by this leak and we are working hard to get the Outdoor Pool open as soon as we can.” 

“We recognize the inconvenience that the delay in opening the outdoor pool causes and we apologize for the delay,” said Dave Brett, director of Infrastructure Services. “Crews are working hard to fix the issues and we hope to get the pool open as soon as possible for everyone to enjoy."


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