In case I didn't mention it (which I just realized I may not have) this past weekend was the annual Alberta Palaeontological Societies' Symposium. I'd attended a couple of these back in my Tyrrell days, but back then it was more an out of season reunion for all the Tyrrell staffers.
This year I had a totally different agenda. Most of my Tyrrell people have moved on, either to different regions or professions, and as of such there was only a few people I knew to see (which was awesome mind you!).
Bright and Early
Fortunately I woke up a bit early on the morning before my alarm clock, at around 6:30am. After the Olympics (which I still haven't fully recovered from either!) this was really early! This gave me a little bit of extra time to add a couple extra slides I'd forgotten into my powerpoint.
Slides for what you might ask?
My presentation, the first of the day! My lecture "The Fossils of New Zealand: Remnants of a Lost Continent".
In bad news I went about 10 minutes over my time limit (oops! Sorry again to the group right after me!). I was trying to cover a WHOLE countries fossil record in 25 minutes, and to be fair i was just off the cuffing my talk (I didn't have any notes of any kind on me!). In good news my talk went over very well. I had many people compliment me on my talk, and my lecturing style. It also put me on people's radars for the rest of the day.
The only problem with going first was that I started my talk with probably only about 1/3 to 1/2 of the later day's total audience. So I still had to do some leg work getting myself out there.
Among people I most wanted to meet and network with were the Palaeo-artists who were going to be in attendance. Chief among them my long time hero, and favourite artist Marianne Collins. The most influential illustrator of the Burgess Shale ever! Not only did I meet her, but...
Marianne was nice enough to let me tag along with her for lunch! Which just got better and better. So in addition to getting to talk to her about such things as artist's rights and illustrating mediums, we suddenly found ourselves sitting with many of the other big names of the conference!
This was my meal company! In the foreground is Marianne Collins and beside her is author Judy Horan (I may have gotten her last name wrong, sorry if this is the case). Across from the ladies was Dr. Scott Sampson (who I hope needs no introduction!), and Michael Skrepnick another super heavy weight Palaeo-artist!
This singular event of the day stands as a competitor for my best moment of 2010. Pushing Speed Skating to a close, but separate second.
Among the highlights were getting to hear two professional palaeo-artists talk shop! Dr. Sampson also praised me on my talk, and asked me a couple questions... He was very intrigued by the prospect of post KT Dinosaurs I mentioned from the Chatham Islands north of New Zealand. Something we should all pay attention for coming from either New Zealand or Australian researchers!
I Learned a Few Things!
The rest of the talks all day were very informative and interesting. Some of the ones that particularly took my fancy included:
A new photography technique that guarantees perfect fossil shots NO matter the lighting in the museum or collections you are shooting in! I'll be giving this a try soon...
What Palaeo-artists have been doing wrong in their reconstructing of Ankylosaurs and Theropod Tails. These were both very relevant to all accuracy seeking Palaeo-artists, and I have made arrangements with the presenters of these talks to perhaps grace ART Evolved with a guest article or two on their subjects!
Dr. Phil Currie gave us a run through of the significant Palaeo-art throughout his life. Starting as a young boy right up into the present. It was a very interesting talk, and among other things I learned that both Dr. Currie and myself were HUGE fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellicular as children.
The Lost Boys
For the last talk of the day the event's organizers had either a sense of humour or drama. We started the day with my talk about the lost continent of Zealandia, and we ended with Dr. Sampson's lecture on the lost continent of Laramidia. Framing the day with lost continents.
Laramidia if you were wondering (as I was too), is the name of western North America during the Cretaceous, as during this time NA was split into 2 or 3 separated land masses by the Western Interior Seaway.
It was a fantastic talk. Which got better when my talk, due to those aforementioned post KT Dinos, was directly referenced in Dr. Sampson's lecture!
A Piece of Unfinished Business!
The other singular thing I was after (and got anyways) was a long overdue photograph. Through all of my years working at the Tyrrell, I have never successful managed to get a photo of me with Dr. Currie. This could not stand, as Dr. Currie has been my longest running hero since childhood. There were several failed attempts at these throughout the years (but I either never got a copy, or they turned out extremely blurry!).
Sadly this latest attempt was a bit on the blurry side, but it works I guess (till next time :P). Besides the Traumador photos with Dr. Currie turned out brilliantly. So I'm not complaining.
The conference itself was everything I wanted and then some. I had an absolute blast while it lasted. Much in the traditions of most symposiums I've been too, the plan was to move interested people to another venue and carry the discussion on afterwards.
There was just one problem. The pre-"planned" restaurant was shut down due to renovations when we got there. Now as I'd stuck around the lecture hall for 20ish minutes catching up with a couple people not coming out afterwards, my idea had been to show up fashionable late. Only to discover, that everyone was long gone from the shut down location.
To say I was bummed out is an understatement, at the time I was truly shattered. I'd left many things undone (including Traum pics with various palaeo celebs!!!), and more to the point I wasn't able wrap up with many people I'd wanted to. In particular Marianne Collins who'd been nice enough to let me tag along with her all day, and snap all the Traumador photos from this day (talk about a special guest photographer!).
I have managed to contact everyone via email (except Dr. Sampson, but his excuse is good. He is on his way to the White House this week!). So that is something. Not the way I'd hoped to end the day at all, but still a not too bad outcome.
Now I just need to think of something for next years talk :P
(Also a quick note. I'll be away for the next few days on a romantic retreat with Lady R. So please don't take my lack of responses in the comment section personally)