Calgary

Discoverer of Badlands dinosaur bones featured in Google doodle

Google doodle celebrates the 160th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Burr Tyrrell, who discovered the first dinosaur bones in Alberta's Badlands back in 1884.

It's the 160th birthday of Joseph Burr Tyrrell, and Google thinks that's pretty cool

Dinosaur bone discoverer Joseph Tyrrell was celebrated in a Google doodle on his 160th birthday, Nov. 1, 2018. (Google Doodles)

Fortunately for Drumheller's tourism industry, Joseph Burr Tyrrell's doctor urged his sickly patient to spend some time in the sun.

That's because way back in 1883, the Ontario-born geologist, cartographer and aspiring miner, then 26 years old and suffering from impaired hearing and eyesight, arrived in Alberta's Badlands region, searching for coal.

He found some. And then, on Aug. 12, 1884, he dug up some pretty sizeable dinosaur bones. Those turned out to be the 70-million-year-old bones of what was later named Albertosaurus Sarcophagus, a relative of T. Rex.

All of that 19th century backstory became top of mind Thursday morning, when Tyrrell's animated likeness was featured as the Google doodle of the day on the site's Canadian home page, to mark the occasion of Tyrrell's 160th birthday.

Google's doodles are changes the site makes to the usual Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries and the lives of famous artists, pioneers and scientists.

Joseph Burr Tyrrell shown in a handout photo. Thursday's Google doodle features a man standing among large dinosaur bones in the Alberta Badlands. It's in honour of Tyrrell, who was born 160 years ago in Weston, Ont. (Royal Tyrrell Museum/Canadian Press)

That initial discovery by Tyrrell led, eventually, to the Great Dinosaur Rush of 1910-17, as paleontologists made their way to dig up the Alberta Badlands, turning nearby Drumheller into the dinosaur mecca it eventually became known for, with the opening of the Tyrrell Museum in 1985.

Tyrrell himself stayed out of the dinosaur bone frenzy that he inadvertently set off, preferring to focus on exploring coal deposits.

He eventually relocated, in 1898 to Dawson City, Yukon, where he became a mining consultant. In 1906, he returned to Ontario. But the upshot of it all was that he found a kind of happiness camping out in the northwestern part of the continent.

"My idea of peace and comfort was a tent by a clear brook anywhere north of 50 degrees of north latitude," wrote Tyrrell, in a quote published on the Google blog about his doodle. "A ground-sheet and blankets enough, a side of salt pork and a bag of flour.… For glory, I had the stars and the northern lights."​

Canadian Press, Google

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