Di­nosaur dis­cov­ery named af­ter Royal Tyrrell tech­ni­cian

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Terri Hux­ley The Drumheller Mail

Al­ready mak­ing in­ter­na­tional head­lines, Mark Mitchell has been hon­oured for his many years of ser­vice in the fos­sil world.

The new species of ar­moured di­nosaur, named ‘Bo­re­alopelta mark­mitchel­lii’, was re­leased to the pub­lic on Au­gust 3, three months af­ter the grand un­veil­ing of the Grounds for Dis­cov­ery ex­hibit in May.

The re­searchers of the world renowned mu­seum had banded to­gether and de­cided that Mitchell was a fit­ting can­di­date for the new fos­sil af­ter his many years of pre­par­ing the spec­i­men. “It was pretty great, I put my hands up in the air and cheered,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell has also worked on other im­pres­sive dis­cov­er­ies in­clud­ing a shark from the tri­as­sic pe­riod, sev­eral marine rep­tiles, no­dosaur skulls from Di­nosaur Pro­vin­cial Park, and

a large eotricer­atops.

New fos­sil dis­cov­er­ies can be named for many dif­fer­ent fac­tors. It could be based on the lo­ca­tion it was found in, the char­ac­ter of the find, re­searchers and their con­tri­bu­tion, or the pre­parer and their con­tri­bu­tions to name a few.

“Hav­ing some­thing named af­ter some­body is a big hon­our,” Mitchell noted.

The over­all prepa­ra­tion of the an­i­mal took ap­prox­i­mately five years and 7,000 hours.

“It was a very chal­leng­ing spec­i­men to work on,” con­tin­ued Mitchell. “The rock was very hard and the bone for the most part was pretty soft, pretty chalky so it was quite dif­fi­cult – but in the end it was all worth while.”

No­dosaur is the fam­ily name of the ar­moured di­nosaur. With two fam­i­lies of ar­moured di­nosaurs; cal­isaurids and no­dosaurids, the big­gest dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion be­tween them is that the cal­isaurids have tail clubs.

The spec­i­men found that Mitchell worked on was in the no­dosaurid fam­ily but with the new species name of ‘Bo­re­alopelta mark­mitchel­lii.’

The fos­sil prepa­ra­tion tech­ni­cian orig­i­nated from Saska­toon be­fore pur­su­ing post sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion at the Uni­ver­sity of Al­berta in the early 90’s. Af­ter­wards, Mitchell landed a job at the Tyrrell in 1996.

“It took me many years of ap­ply­ing to get in,” said Mitchell. “Luck and tim­ing have a lot to do with it.”

The ex­pe­ri­enced tech is now work­ing on a Ple­siosaur from a sep­a­rate mine in Fort McMur­ray.

When the Grounds for Dis­cov­ery ex­hibit was re­leased to the pub­lic in May, it cre­ated world­wide head­lines. The ex­tremely rare find was made at the Sun­cor En­ergy Mil­len­nium Mine north of Fort McMur­ray in March 2011, dubbed as the re­mains of the best-pre­served ar­moured di­nosaur in the world.

“When this amaz­ing di­nosaur went on dis­play at the mu­seum this past May as part of the Grounds for Dis­cov­ery ex­hibit, it re­ceived in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion from premier pub­li­ca­tions such as Na­tional Geo­graphic, the New York Times, Sky News Aus­tralia, Forbes, the Guardian and CNN,” Al­berta Min­is­ter of Tourism and Cul­ture Richardo Mi­randa stated.

Di­nosaur fans can also now re­joice af­ter new tech­nol­ogy has now been re­leased about the ex­hibit.

“In ad­di­tion, this project has been well doc­u­mented in Na­tional Geo­graphic with an in­ter­ac­tive 3D model of the di­nosaur, both how it looked and lived in its day, and how it came to be fos­silized for mil­lions of years be­fore its dis­cov­ery. That cov­er­age con­tin­ues with a new on­line in­ter­ac­tive graphic that ex­plains the di­nosaur’s fos­siliza­tion,” said Min­is­ter Mi­randa.


Fos­sil prepa­ra­tion tech­ni­cian Mark Mitchell re­ceives high hon­our for the new nam­ing of the no­dosaur species that was dis­cov­ered in 2011. Mitchell spent ap­prox­i­mately 5 years and 7,000 hours pre­par­ing the spec­i­men for the new Grounds for Dis­cov­ery ex­hibit at the Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum.

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