From the tender age of five, all Hans Larsson ever wanted to be was a vertebrate paleontologist. He devoured dinosaur books and pestered his parents into summer camping trips in the fossil-rich Alberta badlands—which is how a 14-year-old Larsson ended up meeting paleontology legend Philip Currie. Currie was impressed by this enthusiastic kid and gave him two pieces of advice: keep pursuing scientific study, and go to McGill. Larsson did both.
Now the Canada Research Chair in Vertebrate Paleontology and curator of vertebrate paleontology at McGill’s Redpath Museum, Larsson divides his time between the field and the lab. He’s discovered physical proof that dinosaurs once lived in Canada’s Arctic and found evidence of the oldest carnivorous amphibians in Niger. In the lab, Larsson recently made headlines for his current work to reverse-engineer a chicken embryo that will grow dinosaur-like teeth, tail and claws—a project funded by paleontologist Jack Horner, the inspiration for the film Jurassic Park. Larsson’s office on the third floor of the Redpath Museum is a veritable curiosity closet of wonders from Earth’s ancient past—and a testament to his bottomless passion for discovery.