Google Doodle Honours Canadian Geologist Joseph Burr Tyrrell

Thursday’s Google doodle features a man standing among large dinosaur bones in the Alberta Badlands.

It’s in honour of Joseph Burr Tyrrell, who was born 160 years ago in Weston, Ont.

“It was a wonderful surprise,” said Lisa Making, director of exhibits and communications with the renowned Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alta.

The museum is named in his honour.

Tyrrell, who died in Toronto in 1957 at the age of 98, had worked for the Geological Survey of Canada.

Discovered coal in Alberta

After discovering coal near Fernie, B.C., he was sent to southern Alberta to lead a team of researchers exploring an area north of the Bow River.

They found coal deposits in the Red Deer river valley, which became the country’s largest base for domestic coal mining until the discovery of oil and gas in Leduc in 1947.

“Drumheller was the area that fuelled Canada for decades,” said Making. “He was instrumental in bringing Drumheller on the map for that.”

She said Tyrrell was out exploring the Badlands when he stumbled across his next significant discovery.


“He came upon this fearsome-looking skull buried in the hills, which ironically is only about five kilometres from where the museum is situated now,” said Making. “It just shows how rich the area is in paleotological fossils and discoveries.”

The skull was named Albertosaurus sarcophagus — flesh-eating lizard from Alberta — in 1905, the same year Alberta became a province.

Making hopes the Google doodle will help Canadians better understand their past.

“He’s always an icon here at the museum,” she said. “His discovery of the Albertosaurus actually led to what’s considered the first waves of fossil hunting in Canada and a lot of the discoveries that came from that ended up in museums around the world.”

On its site, Google said the doodles are changes made to its usual logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries and the lives of famous artists, pioneers and scientists.

The company says is has created more than 2,000 doodles for home pages around the world.

“A group of Googlers get together regularly to brainstorm and decide which events will be celebrated with a doodle,” said the website. “The ideas for the doodles come from numerous sources including Googlers and Google users.”

Making said she wishes she knew who was behind Thursday’s Google doodle.

“I would love to take credit for the doodle, but I can’t,” she said.

“I’d love to know who suggested it and thank them. It meant a lot, it really did.”