So as you should now know, coming up is a series of posts from Darren Tanke as he prepares his way through a new Gorgosaurus specimen. This is really cool as this is, naturally, the first time this specimen will be unveiled as it were – you’ll get to see something new as it happens. It seemed appropriate at the start to give a bit of an introduction to Darren, and indeed to the dinosaur he’ll be working on.
Darren works at the legendary Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, Canada which is heaving with local Late Cretaceous dinosaurs and other taxa. He’s been there over thirty years now making him the longest serving employee there (perhaps unsurprisingly). His formal job, as it were, is that of a preparator – preparing the rock from the bones of fossils and repairing and restoring them for study and display. However, Darren’s work goes well beyond this and he is known and respected as a researcher in his own right with dozens of papers to his credit (see his Academia.edu page or check out his Wikipedia entry, and yes, he has one of them too!).
Darren has carried out fieldwork all over the world and is particularly well know for finding lost quarries. Sadly many researchers in the early days were not always great at marking out where their specimens came from and Darren has made it a special task of his. He’s also done a lot of work on the history of palaeontology with papers on the history of important specimens or researchers.
For those who don’t realise, this is seriously impressive. While many preparators do contribute to research papers thanks to their work and knowledge there are not so many out there that have published more than a handful of papers, and especially not as a regular lead author. I’m delighted to have him contribute on here with both hats on as a researcher and preparator.
Moving onto Gorgosaurus, while not famous itself, and therefore perhaps unfamiliar, its cousin Tyrannosaurs certainly should be. Yes Gorgosaurus is one of the giant tyrannosaurs and while a little smaller than rexy is hardly unimpressive – around 8 m or so long and at least a couple of tons in mass at adult, this is not a small carnivore. It is a classic tyrannosaur with a large head, robust teeth, small arms and the rest. If you don’t already have a good idea of what to expect then take a look at this post showing a juvenile prepared by you know who. It dates from the Campanian in the Late Cretaceous (so that’s about 75 million years ago) and lived alongside another large tyrannosaur – Daspletosaurus.
As for the upcoming project believe it or not I have no idea what Darren has lined up for us. All he has told me is that it is a nice specimen and shouldn’t take too long to prepare. I simply haven’t asked and have yet to see a photo of it or anything, so I’m genuinely excited to see what is coming. Above is a photo of the excavation, but obviously it doesn’t reveal that much (photo from the Tyrell’s Facebook page here) though Darren has revealed that it had to be taken out by helicopter so it’s clearly not going to be a small one.
Just as a final bit of housekeeping, while Darren will be writing these posts, I’ll be filing them under the ‘practical palaeontology’ banner rather than ‘guest posts’ as it should make them easier to find for more people. Tune in shortly when we’ll kick off and Darren will reveal the specimen for the first time and tell us what his plans are for it.