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2008-10-13 – Canada: Mostra sui Triceratopi (C.Montreuil profile, Meet the Triceratops)

In Canada organizzata una mostra sui Triceratopi curata dal biologo evoluzionista Hans Larsson, i cui proventi saranno usati per acquistare e quindi esporre una famiglia completa di Triceratopi con esemplari a diversi stadi di sviluppo.


Boning up on dinosaurs

Chantal Montreuil’s dream was to work with animals – live ones, that is. But as a fossil technician at McGill University, it’s her job to piece together the featured exhibit at this week’s Meet the Triceratops event


Published: 3 hours ago

It’s the week before the big event and Chantal Montreuil is trying to figure out how to attach the lower jaw of this young triceratops to the upper jaw.

“What’s difficult is to do it without the wires showing,” said Montreuil, standing back from the two-metre-long dinosaur skull she’s been working on for the past three months at the Redpath Museum.

Montreuil is learning as she goes – as she has done for the past four years as the fossil technician of McGill University’s evolutionary biology laboratory.

She is working from hundreds of small fossilized bones that add up to about 70 per cent of a teenage triceratops’s skull – bones collected on digs led by Hans Larsson, a McGill professor of evolutionary biology, in southwestern Saskatchewan.

On a table in the lab sit the two horns, each weighing close to 10 kilograms, along with a bit of the frill, the upright collar surrounding the head that is characteristic of this Jurassic dinosaur, which wandered in herds until its demise 65 million years ago.

“There are 200 pieces of frill alone,” Montreuil said. “From the size of the horns and the size of the frill, we knew this was a juvenile.”

She has been piecing the bones together, gradually, since going on the first dig in Saskatchewan three years ago. But more recently, she has been using the bones as reference points as she adapts a life-size skull made of fibreglass.

The fibreglass skull and the bones will be on display Friday at the Meet the Triceratops event at Redpath. It’s a chance for the public to learn about McGill’s dinosaur-digging activities.

Later, Montreuil will embed the bones into the fibreglass model.

She picked up the original fibreglass model last summer from Research Casting International, a company in Trenton, Ont., that specializes in dinosaur casts. Montreuil has made various cuts to reduce the length of the head and to widen the face to most closely represent the fossil record the McGill team has collected.

This being her first time working with the material, Montreuil has experimented with different putties, glues, plaster, wire, paint and reinforcing foam. Initially, the fumes emanating from resins in the fibreglass forced her to take the skull out of the museum and put it in her backyard until the odours evaporated.

“My neighbours got a kick out of that,” said Montreuil, who lives in Plateau Mont Royal.

Montreuil, too, gets a kick out of her work. Having dropped out of school at 15, had a baby at 18, and worked at menial jobs through the years while completing high school and, finally, Vanier College’s program in ecology technology, the 37-year-old has nothing but appreciation for her job.

“I’m happy to be doing work I love,” she said.

Her intention was always to work with animals – but with live ones. Raised by parents who collected edible plants and hunted every fall, Montreuil grew up in Verdun knowing her plants and animals. Later, in her mid-20s and living in Vancouver, she learned to scuba dive and became a volunteer in the city aquarium’s marine mammal rehabilitation program, where she taught orphaned seals to hunt and return to the sea.

As fate would have it, however, the first job Montreuil landed after Vanier was a contract to put together a display for the Redpath Museum’s exhibit on biodiversity. Her qualifications for that job had as much to do with her manual skills as with her knowledge of nature. With a carpenter father and a mother who ran a crafts store, Montreuil knew how to use her hands. To this day, she keeps a studio in Mile End where she makes lampshades and sculpts imaginary creatures in papier mâché.

Montreuil was also happy to have work in her field that didn’t require uprooting herself and her son. “I thought to myself, ‘I’m a wildlife technician living in the middle of the city. Not bad,’ ” she said with dry humour.

At the end of that contract, Larsson was looking for a technician. And the rest, as they say, is prehistory. With knowledge of paleontology gleaned during her son’s dinosaur-loving period and from the Vanier program, Montreuil took on the job, learning from Larsson and through trial and error.

“My aptitude for jigsaw puzzles and for packing came in handy,” she joked.

Participating with Larsson and a dozen students in the annual May dig in Saskatchewan, however, has proven to be the most useful experience in the preparation of fossils.

“Seeing these fossils in the ground and visualizing the scene around an ancient riverbed, it gives me a better feel for my work,” Montreuil said. “I’m a bit like the detective who needs to go to the scene of the crime.

“The dig is also an opportunity for me to learn from the paleontology technicians at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum and Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum.”

Quebec has its own paleontology technicians, but their specialization is fossilized fish. Miguasha, in the Gaspé, is a World Heritage Site for Devonian (Age of Fishes) fossils from 370 million years ago. The Age of Reptiles – dinosaurs being the most highly evolved reptile – was a mere 245 million to 65 million years ago.

The triceratops skull will give Montrealers just their second dinosaur: It will take its place beside the albertosaurus that has ruled alone on the museum’s second floor for the past 16 years.

“It’s all very poetic, because it is thanks to the albertosaurus that I learned of this museum,” Montreuil said. “When my son was little, he showed me one of those Jurassic Park (movie) books about the tyrannosaurus. There was a photo in there of the Albertasaurus and in the credits was the name of the Redpath Museum, Montreal. That led to my first visit.”

Meet the Triceratops is a McGill University Homecoming event that features a presentation by evolutionary biology professor Hans Larsson. Proceeds will be used to acquire and display a complete triceratops family – parent, teenager and baby. Suggested contributions are $12 per adult, $5 per child, and $20 per family. No reservation is necessary. The event takes place Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., at the Redpath Museum, 859 Sherbrooke St. W. Call 514-398-4086.

source: © The Gazette (Montreal) 2008


adiitional links:ù

Redpath Museum

Redpath Museum – Meet the Triceratops

ottobre 13, 2008 - Posted by | - Ceratopsidi, - R. Dinosauri, America Northern, Mostre & Fiere, Musei, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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