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The Alberta Palaeontological Society hosting its annual symposium open to dinosaur enthusiasts of all ages


Paleo 2024 is a one day event at Mount Royal University with a number of experts in the field hosting lectures about current and past work being done surrounding prehistoric creatures.

"The Alberta Paleontological Society is a collection of everyone from amateur enthusiasts all the way to professional paleontologists working in academia and museums and the oil and gas industry," said Cory Gross, the president of the society. "So it has something for everyone."

It's a hub of experts all under one roof for the day-long event, which many people in southern Alberta take advantage of it to help them identify interesting rocks they've found.

"We do have a fossil identification station," said Gross. "We're the best collection of experts you could possibly hope for because somebody's gonna know (what you've found), if the person you're talking to doesn't know, they'll pull over somebody else."


It's the 27th year for the Paleo event, which sees hundreds of people in attendance from young and old who are passionate and curious about prehistoric life.

"Every kid loves dinosaurs and we're hoping that we can encourage a few to keep carrying that torch," said Gross. "To give them that encouragement, give them those resources to continue a journey into professional paleontology in one way or another and for them to contribute those new things to the science that keeps us all excited."

Jared Voris is a University of Calgary PhD candidate in the department of earth, energy and the environment. He's been a palaeontologist for 10 years and is hosting a lecture about how today's technology is helping scientists.

"We're using CT scanning technology to actually look inside of the skulls of these animals to reconstruct tissues, like the brain, that are otherwise gone," he said. "To try and understand more about how these animals perceive their world so their senses, their sense of sight, their sense of smell, and even things like how intelligent they were."


Voris enjoys sharing his work with others and finds they're not always interested in the fossils themselves.

"People want to know more about the dinosaurs as living creatures, rather than the dead bones or rocks in the ground," he said. "It's always cool to tell them about what an animal was like, what a T-Rex was like when it was alive."

Voris says he's busy all year round but is excited to get back into field work when the ground thaws in southern Alberta.

"I like getting lost in the wilderness and going to find things that people have never seen before," he said. "But at the same point, I also like the academic side, learning things or discovering things that no one has ever found out before and so that's kind of the big, interesting thing for me about paleontology and science in general is exploring new frontiers in the mind and in the world itself."


Tako Koning spent a life time travelling the world working as a geologist in oil and gas. The 74-year-old is semi-retired now but is still passionate about fossils.

"I always keep an eye open, even to this day," he said. "If we go to B.C., I take along my my geology map, I take along my rock hammer, I take along my magnifying glass and so when we stop, if I see some interesting outcrops I say hey, I'd like to take quick look! Luckily my wife (Henrietta) is very patient and she puts up with my peculiarities."

Koning has collected dozens of specimens over the years through all his travels, but doesn't have a single one he covets.

"I like them all and it's not just the oldest ones," he said. "You get a fossil that's two and a half billion years old, that doesn't make it any more special than one that's really quite new. They all represent prehistoric life, they represent life before mankind came here, they represent life as it was evolving under different conditions."

And he says his fossils aren't dramatic specimens like T-Rex, but life that lived before Dinosaurus.

"I've got one which is fossilized algae, which sounds a little boring but it's not boring because it's two and a half billion years old and that was the first life on Earth," he said. "I found that east of Yellowknife and when I found it, I just thought whoa, this is really interesting."

Koning is hosting a lecture about a small quarry south of Frankfurt called the Messel pit that he's spent years researching.

"If you're really interested in geology, you're also interested in paleontology," he said. "In my case, I've kept up that interest kind of in parallel for a lifetime of 65 years and so it's something which I still like to share my knowledge."

Learn more about the symposium here. Top Stories

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