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Cretaceous Seas

Cretaceous Seas - Protostega
Protostega, such as this cast displayed in the Cretaceous Seas exhibit, is one of the largest known turtles in Earth’s history. ~Photo by Bryan Weismiller

Calgary’s largest extinct marine reptile exhibit unveiled at Mount Royal University

Mount Royal University unveiled Cretaceous Seas, the largest marine vertebrate exhibit in Calgary on Jan. 8.

Installed from the atrium ceilings in Mount Royal’s East Gate and B-Wing, Cretaceous Seas provides students and the public an opportunity to view life-sized specimens of extinct marine reptiles and fishes that swam or flew the seas of western North America during the Cretaceous Period, more than 65 million years ago.

The casts on display were constructed from molds produced from bones of marine reptiles, pterosaurs and fishes unearthed from sea bottom muds and deposited in the Western Interior Seaway.

Mount Royal’s President, David Docherty, PhD, said the exhibit is a perfect example of the high impact or capstone learning opportunities that Mount Royal provides to our students to enhance their academic success and better prepare them for work or further studies.

Cretaceous Seas - Haglund
Professor emeritus Wayne Haglund smiles as Mount Royal’s new collection of extinct marine reptiles, pterosaurs and fishes arrives. ~Photo by Bryan Weismiller

The project was championed by Mount Royal Professor Emeritus Wayne Haglund, PhD, who has worked tirelessly for the past 15 years to see this exhibit come to fruition.

Cretaceous Seas is one example of the experiential learning opportunities Mount Royal provides to enhance student success. Geology students will have the opportunity to see these marine vertebrates first hand instead of reading about them in textbooks, while biology students will use the exhibit to study how the extinct specimens relate to modern vertebrate animals.

“I expect that our new paleontology exhibit will provide great enjoyment and education for students and staff at Mount Royal for many years to come,” said Dean, Faculty of Science and Technology, Jeff Goldberg.

“As a destination for elementary school science classes and paleontological conferences, the exhibit will also help build strong connections with the external community.”

Cretaceous Seas - Elasmosaurus
A Platecarpus cast hangs in Mount Royal’s B-Wing. This predatory lizard would have fed on fish, cephalopods and potentially turtles. ~Photo by Bryan Weismiller

Mount Royal is continually working with industry to provide the most relevant training experience for our students. In particular, the Cretaceous Seas exhibit is made possible through sponsorship by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA). While this significantly completes the initial phases of the project, the exhibit will expand over time.

“Through outreach programs and sponsorships, APEGA endeavours to inspire youth and young adults to become Professional Geoscientists and Engineers. This amazing display at Mount Royal University will educate and captivate the potential geoscientist in all of us,” says APEGA CEO Mark Flint, P.Eng.

“That’s why we’re pleased to support an installation with such a long-term value.”

Mount Royal University is the only location in Calgary where these unique marine reptiles and fishes can be seen. We encourage elementary and junior high students, along with members of the community to visit Cretaceous Seas and learn about the Cretaceous Period and the five marine vertebrate animals: Elasmosaurs, Enchodus, Platecarpus, Protostega and Pteranodon.

Jan. 8, 2015 — Alyssa Berry