Aykroyd pals dig deep for Alberta dinosaur museum

Friday, July 22, 2011

Actor Dan Aykroyd joined famed paleontologist Philip Currie on a dinosaur dig Friday to raise money for a new museum in northern Alberta.

Currie is leading the dig in a remote bone bed near Pipestone Creek Park, 40 minutes west of Grande Prairie.

Dan Aykroyd and his wife Donna Dixon, supporters of the museum since meeting Currie last year, invited fellow celebrities including mystery writer Patricia Cornell, Bobby Kennedy Jr. and others along for a two-day dig capped by a celebrity ball and private auction.

"Celebrity is good for getting a good table at a restaurant maybe, or occasionally getting out of a speeding ticket," said Aykroyd. "And this kind of thing where you're trying to raise awareness for a cause. So that's what we're doing."

The excavation site, known as the the River of Death in recognition of a flood that wiped out a massive herd of horned dinosaurs 73 million years ago, was discovered in 1974 by Grade 8 science teacher Al Lakusta.

Almost all of the 3,500 bones and 14 skulls removed so far belong to a previously unknown species, later named Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai (thick-nosed lizard).

Paleontologists describe the largely unknown bone bed as one of the richest they've ever seen.

"Grande Prairie is in fact a much richer area than you would guess by the amount of fossils on display anywhere," said Currie.

"But with the new museum coming into the Grande Prairie region, it means we're now going to be a lot more capable of going out there and looking," he said.

"It is a Canadian treasurehouse, and I want to bring people from all over the world to Canada to help display what's here and show the world we have this incredible resource right here in this province," said Aykroyd.

Organizers are still short $5.5 million towards the $26-million Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum which they're hoping will be completed next year.

For more information related to dinosaurs, visit rareresource.com.


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