Where can I study palaeo in Canada? – 150 things about Canadian palaeo, part 17

Slacking again a bit on the blog posts due to my new job and trying to finish my PhD corrections (which I’ll talk about soon), but I am determined to get this series done! Continuing on with my 150 things about Canadian palaeo series, I thought it would be interesting to talk about some of the different universities that allow you to study palaeontology in Canada. Starting with 126/150:

126. I think the most obvious answer to start with (especially for me, as it’s my alma mater) but the University of Alberta in Edmonton is one of the few places that you can do an undergraduate degree, offering a BSc in Paleontology. This degree is basically a combination of geology and biology, with enough options to tailor it to your interests, whether that’s invertebrates (Lindsey Leighton), vertebrates (Phil Currie, Alison Murray, Michael Caldwell), plants (Eva Koppelhus), or even trace fossils. And the diversity in possible paths means there’s a diverse faculty to continue into graduate studies too if you choose to go that way!

127. At the University of Toronto, you can also study palaeontology. The main campus in Toronto doesn’t offer a palaeo degree, but you can study ecology and evolutionary biology, where you can take courses from vertebratepalaeontologists like David Evans, or if you choose to go the geology route, there are courses from invertebrate palaeontologists like Jean-Bernard Caron. And of course you can also study as a graduate student here. EDIT: Thanks to David Evans for the updates on the invertebrate palaeos!

128. Kind of cheating, but at the other campus, University of Toronto, Mississauga offers a BSc in Biology, allowing you to major in palaeontology. Similar to the U of A program, this allows you to take undergraduate courses in both earth sciences and biology. And if you want to be a grad student, Robert Reisz is there. EDIT: And thanks to David Evans, it was pointed out that you can also do invertebrate/Ediacaran palaeo at UTM with Marc Laflamme!

129. Anyone particularly interested in vertebrate palaeontology, Carleton University in the Canadian capital of Ottawa offers an Earth Sciences BSc with a concentration in vertebrate palaeontology and palaeontology. Prospective MSc and PhD students can work with Hillary Maddin. EDIT: You can also study mammal evolution through Dani Fraser or dinosaurs with Jordan Mallon both based at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.

130. The University of Calgary doesn’t offer major undergraduate courses in palaeontology (probably due to it’s proximity with the U of A), but does have a significant research and graduate school facility. The Department of Geoscience has Darla Zelenitsky, who works mainly on dinosaurs, especially those from Alberta. The Department of Biology hosts a number of other vertebrate palaeontology researchers working on early tetrapods (Jason Anderson), mammals (Jessica Theodor), and more. EDIT: Thanks to the comment from Jason Anderson below, I wanted to correct this and say that Jason is actually located in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, not Biology. And in addition to those mentioned, there are a number of other palaeos around the university, including in Anthropology and more in Geosciences. And of course you can study palaeo as an undergrad through different geo and bio courses, there just isn’t a specific palaeontology degree. If you want more info, check out Jason’s comment below.

131. Like some of the others, McGill University in Montreal doesn’t offer a specific undergraduate degree in palaeontology, although there are a few courses you can take. If you’re interested in developmental evolutionary biology and macroevolution, graduate studies with Hans Larsson are possible!

EDIT: 132. A late addition to the list, thanks to the comment from Mary Silcox! There is actually a 3rd University of Toronto campus where you can also study palaeontology, with is U of T Scarborough. As Mary pointed out, there are a number of universities that allow students to study palaeo through anthropology, which is where Mary is based. These approaches tend to let you get at palaeo through primate evolution, which is usually based in anthropology departments rather than bio or geo. So anyone interested in primates, UT Scarborough is another option! There are other people at UT in the anthropology department that are palaeos, and you can check out Mary’s comment below for more names.

EDIT: 133. Also if you’re interested in primate evolution and palaeoanthropology and the evolution of hominids, Université de Montréal has both undergraduate and graduate level courses in human palaeontology and palaeoanthropology, taught by Michelle Drapeau. Her work looks at early hominin evolution, and things like how bipedalism evolved.

EDIT: 134. And if you’re looking for more recent human evolution or palaeoanthropology, the University of Winnipeg studies human evolution during the Pleistocene, or the last ice age. Her work also looks at archaeology.

EDIT2: 135. Man the places just keep coming! You can also study gnathostome development and nervous system evolution through the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science / Centre de la Science de la Biodiversité du Québec, with Richard Cloutier and the Université du Québec à Rimouski. Thanks Kirstin Brink for that suggestion.

EDIT2: 136. And there’s also the University of Regina which allows for graduate studies in palaeo combined with the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (such as invertebrate palaeo and amber studies with Ryan McKellar), as well as palaeobotanists, and Quaternary palaeontologists in Saskatchewan. Thanks to Kirstin again for this!

This is not an exhaustive list, but these are sort of the main places you can study palaeontology in Canada. If anyone has any other major ones that I may have missed, please let me know. Hopefully this will be helpful to someone!

EDIT: Well I’ve learned a lot about other programmes I was unaware of before, and people I didn’t know about from different unis in Calgary, so please keep them coming if anyone can think of any other major things I’ve missed. This wasn’t meant to list every paleo-related person from each uni, but it is nice to know what other unis or departments have working palaeos, so please let me know if there are any major unis/programmes I can add!

The series:

Part 1: Intro

Part 2: The Burgess Shale

Part 3: Early Canadian Palaeontologists

Part 4: Canadian Fossil Names

Part 5: Dinosaur Provincial Park

Part 6: Marine Fossils

Part 7: Current Canadian Palaeos

Part 8: Dinosaur Fossil Localities

Part 9: Palaeontology Museums

Part 10: Joggins Fossil Cliffs

Part 11: Significant Canadian Fossils

Part 12: Current Canadian Palaeos (2)

Part 13: Mistaken Point

Part 14: Palaeobotany

Part 15: Early Fossil Sites

Part 16: Miguasha National Park


8 thoughts on “Where can I study palaeo in Canada? – 150 things about Canadian palaeo, part 17

  1. Just a few comments on paleo at the University of Calgary: I’m in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine but supervise students in Biological Sciences most commonly, and my students are or have worked on a range of animals (salamanders, plesiosaurs, caecilians, dinosaurs, to name a few) not just early tetrapods. Also here are Susy Cote (Miocene primates) in Anthropology, and Alex Duchek (Cenozoic mammals) and Charles Henderson (conodonts, but they are vertebrates too) in GeoSci, and most of the Royal Tyrrell Museum curators have adjunct appointments in one of our departments. Plus we have a wide range of other vertebrate morphologists, evolutionary biologists, developmental biologists, and biomechanists slightly more removed from paleo but with whom we frequently interact. We don’t have an undergraduate degree not because of the UofA being so close but because of internal administrative requirements and other similarly boring reasons, but we do coteach a paleo methods course at the advanced undergraduate/graduate level and have ample opportunities to study paleo through a degree in Bio or Geo.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Jason! Of course there are lots of options at U of C, and this was certainly not meant to be an exhaustive look at it (I didn’t list everyone from any of the unis, but listed the people I’m more familiar with). And of course you’ve had students who have worked on more than just early tetrapods, but I can’t list everything! I will admit that part of the problem is that I did a lot of this just from searching and reporting what I could find online, and when searching for palaeo at U of C, what came up was the Biological Sciences page (which is annoying since I know that you are in Veterinary Medicine now that I think about it) and the Geosciences page for Darla Zelenitsky. I guess it depends a lot on what kind of internet presence different groups have.

      My thoughts about this list were mainly just to give some brief suggestions on where you can study, if anyone was interested and didn’t know about the different options in Canada, and hopefully they would go and do their only detailed research after! Just a quick start at some of the options 🙂

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  2. Actually all three U of T campuses have opportunities to study paleo, since there is a most excellent vertebrate paleontologist at UT Scarborough (i.e., me).

    Anthropology programs at several universities in Canada also take students to study Paleontology (e.g., David Begun, Bence Viola, Lauren Schroeder and myself at Toronto, Susy Cote at Calgary, Michelle Drapeau at Montreal, Mirjana Roksandic at Winnipeg)

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    1. Thanks for the comment Mary! I will be perfectly honest, I didn’t even know there was a UT Scarborough! This is what happens when I’m from Alberta haha… I’ve updated the post and added in the extra unis and also brought up the palaeoanthro angle. That is a really good point that I hadn’t fully thought of before, that these studies would be based in anthropology and therefore I likely missed them when I was searching. Cheers!

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