Monday, June 7, 2010

Scow 2010 crew introductions: Darren Tanke

Well I guess it is about time I introduced myself. I'm this groups blogger and the 2010 scow trip conceiver and expedition leader.

I was born in Calgary in 1960. I became interested in the Earth Sciences at an early age, attracted to the different colors of stones in the alley behind my house. Through the years I developed an interest in paleontology, then vertebrate paleontology, and by junior high school it was dinosaurs all the way. This interest in dinosaurs was influenced to a strong degree by the original "Prehistoric Park" of concrete dinosaurs then at the Calgary Zoo c. 1937-1979. While these creations were anatomically incorrect, they sure fired up my imagination. In high school I built horned dinosaur skulls and skeletons in kiln-fired clay. By the time high school was up (1979) I had to make a big decision and joined the then relatively unknown Philip J. Currie as a volunteer in Dinosaur Provincial Park and Sandy Point, Alberta. After only 20 minutes in the field (and in my first 20 minutes in the field being shown a very rare partial small carnivorous dinosaur skull), I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Once fieldwork was over I had to make another big decision and leave home, moving to Edmonton where I was offered only a part time job (4 month contract) at $4.50/hr with Currie and the hope my employment could be extended. It was and here I am some 31 years later, now the longest serving employee at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller.

In the course of my laboratory and fieldwork preparing and collecting a wide variety of vertebrate fossils I became interested in the paleontological heritage of our province, particularly the people who worked here long ago, the technologies they used, etc. No one I worked with seemed interested in researching and especially recording this important aspect of our past. A fellow lab technician with whom I have had a long association tells me that c. 1980-1981 I was talking about how fun it would be to "rebuild Barnum Brown's scow and float down the Red Deer River". I don't recall that, though I have no reason to doubt him. The current project started about 8 years ago, when I started looking for and buying artifacts or replicas of same to equip such a reconstructed scow.

Through this expedition, I am trying to relive a now little known past of our provinces paleontological heritage and to share it with others via that wonderful tool called the Internet. I think the best way to truly understand what our paleontological forefathers went through is to try and live, as close as possible, the same way they did on their early fossil hunting expeditions. Follow in their footsteps, floating down the Red Deer River, much as they did 1910-1916. And of course we should be able to find some neat dinosaur fossils along the way! We won't be collecting these, but will record their precise locations so they can be dealt with later.

More on me can be found here:
and many of my publications are here:
Another research project of mine is detailed here:

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