Archive for June, 2010

Saskatchewan Lacking Palaeontologists

Posted in news, science on June 29, 2010 by saskskeptic

The CBC has this article about the lack of paleontologists in the province.

Saskatchewan has one of the richest dinosaur fossil deposits of all the Canadian provinces, but it’s an underdeveloped resource, experts say.

The fossils, many of them found in the Frenchman River Valley, are reminders of an ancient time, tens of millions of years ago, when triceratops, ankylosaurus and tyrannosaurus rex roamed the Earth.

Hans Larsson, who’s a paleontologist with McGill University in Montreal, says while Saskatchewan doesn’t have as rich a fossil record as Alberta, it is still comparable.

“It’s a bit of a mystery why more work hasn’t been done there. Perhaps Alberta has sort of taken the show for many of years and this is why the majority of research has been focussed on Alberta. But Saskatchewan, I think, is equally important.”

In Saskatchewan, some fossil-bearing layers of rock are close to the surface, leaving some dinosaur fossils exposed to the elements.

Wes Long, a paleontological technician who works for the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Eastend, says he’s worried good fossils are being destroyed by erosion.

“It’s just really, really frustrating,” he said.

The problem, he says, is essentially a severe labour shortage in the province’s fossil industry.

There are only two professionals in the province who work in vertebrate paleontology, which is the study of dinosaurs and other animal fossils.

That compares to roughly 30 paid researchers in the field in Alberta

Read more: CBC

If you have never been to the East End T. Rex Discovery Center its worth a visit.


Dinosaur “Mega-bonebed” Near Alberta-Saskatchewan Border

Posted in news, science on June 28, 2010 by saskskeptic

Live Science has this article on a new bonebed found near Hilda Alberta.

Scientists have revealed what may be the world’s largest dinosaur graveyard.

The dinosaurs may have been part of a mass die-off resulting from a monster storm, comparable to today’s hurricanes, which struck what was then a coastal area.

The findings could help solve a mystery concerning why the badlands of western Canada are so rich in dinosaur fossils.

The roughly 76-million-year-old fossil beds apparently hold thousands of bones over an area of at least 568 acres (2.3 square km), skeletons that belonged to a roughly cow-sized, plant-eating horned dinosaur known as Centrosaurus. This treasure trove provides the first solid evidence that some horned dinosaur herds were much larger than previously thought, with numbers easily in the high hundreds to low thousands, said senior research scientist David Eberth, a paleontologist and geologist at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta.

The “mega-bonebed,” which consists of 14 smaller bonebeds, lies in northern Alberta near Hilda, Canada, right by the border with Saskatchewan. The graveyard was actually discovered in 1997, but confirmation of the discovery’s size was detailed this month in the book “New Perspectives On Horned Dinosaurs” (Indiana University Press, 2010). [Illustration of centrosaur herd]


The CBC article is even better.

Skeptics In The Pub

Posted in Event, Skeptic on June 22, 2010 by saskskeptic

Wednesday June 23

Any time between 7:30 to 11:30

Hose Brew Pub
612 11th St E
Saskatoon, SK S7N0G3
(306) 477-3473


British General Chiropractic Council admits there is no evidence for chiropractic subluxations and makes it policy not to make health claims regarding them.

The chiropractic vertebral subluxation complex is an historical concept but it remains a theoretical model. It is not supported by any clinical research evidence that would allow claims to be made that it is the cause of disease or health concerns.

Should Saskatchewan/Canada have a euthanasia law? If so in what form?

Possible Events

  • Regina Road Trip – Science Center, Bodies Exhibit, Natural History Museum
  • Superstition Party – August 13

Any Issue People wish to bring up.


For more information email

Bring a Friend.

Also see Saskatoon Skeptics Society on Facebook
Saskatoon Skeptics Society Google Calendars

Saskatoon Whooping Cough Cluster Prompts Immunizations

Posted in Media, news on June 19, 2010 by saskskeptic

The Saskatoon Health Region is asking mothers of newborns to get vaccinated for whooping cough.  This is a dangerous disease for infants who cannot be vaccinated until they are older.

About 279,000 people worldwide died from whooping cough in 2003, according to the World Health Organization. That same year, there were an estimated 17.6 million cases of whooping cough worldwide.

The disease is a significant cause of worldwide infant death, and vaccinations averted about 38.3 million cases and 607,000 deaths in 2003, says the WHO.

Read more: The Star Phoenix

Infant protection relies on most people in the community being vaccinated and the disease having difficulty spreading from person to person.  This is known as herd immunity.  To reach herd immunity for whooping cough (Pertussis), 92-94% of the community should be vaccinated or otherwise immune.

The vaccination rates in Saskatoon for all diseases are low.  At the end of April the Saskatoon Health Region was attempting to address this through drop-in clinics across the city.

While 76 per cent of children living in the region have received all of their immunizations, the goal is for rates to reach 85 per cent for adequate protection of the community.

An estimated 1,400 two- and three-year-old children in the SHR are behind in vaccinations.

Read more: The Star Phoenix

The 76% immunization rate is lower than it should be.  Further, the true immunization rate may be even lower.   The SHR Annual Report notes that:

… clients who refused all vaccines are counted as if they had received all recommended vaccines according to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization schedule.
What percentage of clients are refusing vaccines?  The percentage of people refusing protection for their children should be published, not hidden as being vaccinated.  This represents a health risk for their children and other who been unable to receive vaccinations.
The reported vaccination rate for previous years is:
Another concern is that low income regions have a much lower than average vaccination rate.
… it was found that the rate for child immunization coverage in Saskatoon’s six low income
neighbourhoods was less than half the rate for affluent neighbourhoods.
The much lower vaccination rates would more easily allow diseases to gain a foothold and to spread.  Compounding this lower income families are likely to be younger with younger children.
Disclaimer:  Don`t get medical advice from a blog, see your health provider.

Prostate Cancer

Posted in Event on June 19, 2010 by saskskeptic

Prostate cancer is a common killer. It kills as many (if not more) men as breast cancer kills women.  Yet, it does not have the same public awareness that breast cancer has.  In Saskatchewan in  2008, 173 people died of breast cancer while 197 died of prostate cancer.

The lack of public awareness maybe the result of differences between the two.  Breast cancer tends to occur earlier in life and its treatment frequently results in a mastectomy.

There has been a very public campaign to support breast cancer research and treatment.  Now Prostate Cancer Canada is working to promote public awareness of this prostate cancer. Safeway is a major sponsor and its in store fund-raising campaign has been for Prostate Cancer Canada.  Way to go Safeway.

Prostate Cancer Canada has been organizing father’s day runs, and there is one in Regina but none in Saskatoon.

If you are in Saskatoon and have a motorcycle, an alternate is the Motorcycle Ride For Dad starting at the confederation mall.

Saturday, June 19th, 2010
7:30 – 9:30 a.m.
Place: Confederation Mall, Saskatoon

If Science Worked Like Religion

Posted in Media on June 19, 2010 by saskskeptic

Richard Dawkins segment on “If Science Worked Like Religion”.

FYB: David Suzuki Lecture

Posted in Event, Feed Your Brain, science on June 19, 2010 by saskskeptic

Hort Week at the University of Saskatchewan is featuring a free lecture by David Suzuk, Sunday July 18, 7:30-9:30 at the PAC ((Kinesiology building) 87 Campus Dr.  Avid gardeners should check out the other Hort Week actvites.

Please join us for a FREE lecture with Dr. David Suzuki. Dr. Suzuki is
an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. He
is renowned for his radio and television programs that explain the
complexities of the natural sciences in a compelling, easily understood
way. “A Harmonious Environment” will highlight how we are all
interconnected and interdependent with nature. Dr. Suzuki will discuss
the effects of cosmetic use of pesticides on our environment, human
health and insects. You do not need to register to attend this free event,
though anyone pre-registering will have preferred seating. See Page 3
for more information.
Time 7:00–9:30 pm, Sunday, July 18
Location The PAC (Kinesiology building), U of S Campus