Our ScientistsFrançois Therrien, Ph.D.

Curator of Dinosaur Palaeoecology

François Therrien

François Therrien studies the palaeoecology of extinct animals, which, in essence, is trying to determine what the animals did while they were alive and what the world they lived in looked like. To do so, François  uses two different approaches: 1) he studies the shape of the bones of animals in order to determine the behaviours of extinct animals (e.g., how they hunted, walked, laid their eggs) and 2) he studies the features and chemical composition of ancient soils (called paleosols) in order to reconstruct the environments and climatic conditions the animals lived in. François tries to see past the bones and rocks in order to explore dinosaurs as a single component within a complex ecosystem.

Contact Information

Toll free in Alberta:
310-0000 then (403) 823-7707

Toll free in North America
(outside Alberta):
1-888-440-4240

Outside North American:
1-403-823-7707

Email: francois.therrien@gov.ab.ca

Current Research

François' research projects focus on the:

  • study of the changes in dinosaur diversity and in the environmental and climatic conditions during the Late Cretaceous to determine if environmental and climate changes are responsible for the extinction of dinosaurs
  • determination of the feeding behaviours of extinct predators through the study of adaptations of lower jaws
  • reconstruction of the habitats in which dinosaurs built their nests
  • evaluation of the sense of smell in extinct predators by looking at the size of their olfactory bulbs using CT scanning technology
  • study of dinosaur locomotion using CT scanning of limb bones

Recent Publications

Csiki, Z., Grigorescu, D., Codrea, V., and Therrien, F. 2010. Taphonomic modes in the Maastrichtian continental deposits of the Haţeg Basin, Romania – paleoecological and paleobiological inferences. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 293: 375-390.

Brink, K.S., Zelenitsky, D.K., Evans, D.A., and Therrien, F. 2010. Affinities of lambeosaurine (Ornithischia: Hadrosauridae) embryos from Devil’s Coulee (Campanian), Alberta. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Abstracts of Papers, Supplement to no. 3, v. 30, p. 65A. (poster presentation)

Cousineau, M.L., Therrien, F., Maruoka,T., and Fortin, D. 2010. Investigating paleo-environmental conditions at two terrestrial Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary sections in Alberta, Canada, using sulfur isotopes. Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Summer Program 2010 Orientation Session, Sokendai (The Graduate University for Advanced Studies), Shonan Village, Hayama, Japan [no page number]. (poster presentation)

Therrien, F., Zelenitsky, D.K., and Weishampel, D.B. 2009. Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of the Late Cretaceous Sânpetru Formation (Haţeg Basin, Romania) using paleosols and implications for the “disappearance” of dinosaurs. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 272: 37-52.

Zelenitsky, D.K., Therrien, F., and Kobayashi, Y. 2009. Olfactory acuity in theropods: palaeobiological and evolutionary implications. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276: 667-673.

Therrien, F., Zelenitsky, D.K., and Weishampel, D.B. 2009. Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of the Late Cretaceous Sânpetru Formation (Haţeg Basin, Romania) using paleosols and implications for the "disappearance" of dinosaurs. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 272: 37-52.

Zelenitsky, D.K., Therrien, F., and Kobayashi, Y. 2009. Olfactory acuity in theropods: palaeobiological and evolutionary implications. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276: 667-673.

Zelenitsky, D.K., and Therrien, F. 2008. Unique maniraptoran egg clutch from the Upper Cretaceous Two Medicine Formation of Montana reveals theropod nesting behaviour. Palaeontology 51: 1253-1259.

Zelenitsky, D.K., Therrien, F., Joyce, W.G., and Brinkman, D. 2008. First fossil gravid turtle provides insight into the evolution of reproductive traits in turtles. Biology Letters 4: 715-718.

Zelenitsky, D.K., and Therrien, F. 2008. Phylogenetic analysis of reproductive traits of maniraptoran theropods and its implications for egg parataxonomy. Palaeontology 51: 807-816.

Ali, F., Zelenitsky, D.K., Therrien, F., and Weishampel, D.B. 2008. Homology of the "ethmoid complex" of tyrannosaurids and its implication for the reconstruction of the olfactory apparatus of non-avian theropods. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 28: 123-133.

Therrien, F., Eberth, D.A., Braman, D.R., and Zelenitsky, D.K. 2007. High-resolution organic carbon isotope record across the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary in south-central Alberta: implications for the post-impact recovery rate of terrestrial ecosystems and use of d13C as a boundary marker. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 44: 529-542.

Therrien, F., and Henderson, D.M. 2007. My theropod is bigger than yours... or not: estimating body size from skull length in theropods. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27: 108-115.

Fanti, F., and Therrien, F. 2007. Theropod tooth assemblages from the Late Cretaceous Maevarano Formation and the possible presence of dromaeosaurids in Madagascar. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 52: 155-166.

Therrien, F. 2006. Depositional environments and fluvial system changes in the dinosaur-bearing Sânpetru Formation (Late Cretaceous, Southern Carpathians, Romania): post-orogenic sedimentation in an active extensional basin. Sedimentary Geology 192: 183-205.

Lipka, T.R., Therrien, F., Weishampel, D.B., Jamniczky, H., Joyce, W., Colbert, M., and Brinkman, D.B. 2006. A new turtle from the Arundel Clay facies (Potomac Formation, Early Cretaceous) of Maryland, U.S.A. Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology 26: 300-307.

Therrien, F. 2005. Feeding behaviour and bite force of sabertoothed predators. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 145: 393-426.

Therrien, F. 2005. Mandibular force profiles of extant carnivorans and implications for the feeding behaviour of extinct predators. The Journal of Zoology (London) 267: 249-270.

Therrien, F., Henderson, D.M., and Ruff, C.B. 2005. Bite me: Biomechanical models of theropod mandibles and implications for feeding behavior. In K. Carpenter (ed.), The Carnivorous Dinosaurs, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, pp. 179-237.

Therrien, F. 2005. Palaeoenvironments of the latest Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) dinosaurs of Romania: insights from fluvial deposits and paleosols of the Transylvanian and Haţeg basins. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 218: 15-56.

Bookmark and Share

Government-at-a-Glance | Contact Government | Privacy Statement

The user agrees to the terms and conditions set out in the Copyright and Disclaimer statement.

©2010 Government of Alberta and ©2010 Royal Tyrrell Museum | Last Review/Update - April 09, 2014