Interviewing teenagers can sometimes be, let's say, challenging, but every now and again it is a real pleasure. Such was the case last week when I had an opportunity to talk to 17-year-old Jane Last.
Last year, Jane participated in a Science and Technology session with Encounters with Canada, a great program for youth aged 14 to 17 that sends 128 to 140 students to Ottawa each week during the school year.
Her enthusiasm for science made me just a little envious of the intensity of youth. I say just a little because the great trade-off of achieving a certain, ahem, vintage is that while the highs of life may not be quite as lofty, the lows are similarly not so deep.
Nevertheless, the discovery of a large duckbill dinosaur fossil last week by a workers excavating for a pipeline in the Saddle Hills area of Alberta southwest of Spirit River last week uncovered some of that youthful enthusiasm in me.
I always find new scientific discoveries exciting, but fossils—perhaps it is the geologist in me—are special.
They are special for a bunch of reasons. First off, as fascinating as stars and galaxies, black holes and quasars are, the greatest story in the universe, at least for me, is life.
With the uncovering of each new fossil our understanding of that story is enriched. It will be exciting to see what this specimen ultimately reveals about duckbills and evolution.
Fossils, particularly dinosaurs, are also special because few things pique the imagination of children like these exotic huge creatures that once dominated the life story of our planet.
Anything that inspires kids to be interested in science is a-okay in my books.
I would feel remiss if I did not give kudos to Tourmaline Oil on this story. Pipeline companies do not get a lot of positive press these days, but this company showed great corporate responsibility by halting work at the site so scientists can search for the rest of the animal and extract the fossil. The company's crew is even assisting with the extraction.