Saturday, August 15, 2009

2010 Arctic Winter Games Mascot Discovers Ancient Family History

The 2010 Arctic Winter Games mascot got a first-hand history lesson recently. Aluk, the young Pachyrhinosaurus met with visiting palaeontologists on the banks of the Wapiti River and witnessed a portion of the excavation of the Wapiti River Bone Bed.

Researchers from the University of Alberta and Grande Prairie Regional College excavated several large bone blocks. The two-week dig was led by world-renowned paleontologist Dr. Philip Currie, and wrapped up Friday with the helicopter airlift of two enormous Pachyrhinosaurus skulls.

The Wapiti River site is the second Pachyrhinosaurus bone bed to be discovered in Grande Prairie. The first was opened in 1983 and yielded a new species of Pachyrhinosaurus (Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai). The bone beds have become so popular with local residents that many consider Pachyrhinosaurus 'their' regional dinosaur.

Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the 2010 Arctic Winter Games, Joanne Ballance says that sense of ownership has ensured a warm welcome for the Games mascot in the Grande Prairie region.

"The prominence of similar bone beds through North America’s higher latitudes makes the pachyrhinosaur a fabulous ambassador that speaks not only to the history of our local region, but brings to light a common thread between some of the Northern regions participating in the Arctic Winter Games" said Ballance.

Scott Persons is one of several students working with Dr. Currie on the project. A native of North Carolina, Persons is now entering his second year of a Masters of Paleontology at the University of Alberta.

“I was surprised when I heard the pachyrhinosaur had been chosen as the Games mascot. Although the scientific importance of Pachyrhinosaurus has been known in the professional realm for a long time, it is not a famous dinosaur as far as the public goes.” Persons said, "but pachyrhinos are cool critters and they are definitely iconic to Grande Prairie. So, I hope Aluk’s popularity will also help promote the amazing paleontological work that has been done in this region and help generate support for all the work that still has to be done."

For More Information on this, or other news stories click http://www.awg2010.org/news.aspx