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The Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum will become unique among Canadian museums in offering helicopter rides. Currie Museum Photo
Leading up to the September 3 soft opening, the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum in Wembley, Alta., will begin offering helicopter tours from August 5 throughout the summer over one of the world’s densest dinosaur bone-bed sites.
The tours will showcase stunning aerial views of the museum, Pipestone Creek and Wapiti River, snaking through heavily wooded terrain to the mass gravesite of dinosaurs buried millions of years ago. The 15-minute ride includes on-board tablets providing layered information on the history and fossil finds in Pipestone Creek where there is an average of nearly 200 bones per square meter. Spread across the size of a football field, two catastrophic floods millions of years ago created a mass grave where over 3000 bones have so far been recovered from an estimated hundreds of dinosaur herds. It is also the site that revealed the first co-occurrence of insects in amber and dinosaur fossils that inspired many Hollywood blockbusters.
Following a chance discovery of a previously unknown dinosaur in 1974 by a local schoolteacher, Al Lakusta, Dr. Philip J. Currie and Darren Tanke found a skull and frill of the same unknown species. Subsequently, the Royal Tyrrell Museum launched an excavation, uncovering two more skulls from the same bone bed, eventually identifying the new species as Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai in 2004. Since then numerous footprints and skin impressions have been discovered, indicating that multiple dinosaur species frequented the region, including unnamed carnivorous ones related to Velociraptors.
According to George Jacob, the founding President and CEO of the museum, “We’re proud to be the first museum in Canada to offer helicopter rides – and we plan this to be the first step in connecting multiple dinosaur sites across Alberta and British Columbia. There is a huge swath of fossils across both provinces that will uncover many previously unsolved mysteries in the future.”
Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum is an international institute for experiential learning dedicated to Alberta’s palaeontological heritage through research, collection, preservation, exhibition, public programming, publications and innovative outreach. Scheduled for a September 26, 2015 grand opening, this is Canada’s newest world-class museum with the latest interactive technology and exhibit methods and award-winning architecture. For more details, go to www.dinomuseum.ca.