Russell, Loris S.

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Russell, Loris S.

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  • Loris Shano Russell

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Loris Shano Russell was born April 21, 1904 in Brooklyn New York; his mother, Matilda Shano, was from Newfoundland and his father, Milan Winslow Russell was from New York. At the age of four, Russell and his family moved to Calgary, Alberta where he grew up. Russell received a BSc in Geology from the University of Alberta in 1927, and two graduate degrees from Princeton University: an MA (1929) and a PhD (1930).

Russell worked as an assistant palaeontologist with the Geological Survey of Canada from 1930-1936, an assistant geologist in 1937. Russell was then an assistant director of the Royal Ontario Museum of Paleontology. During the Second World War, Russell served with the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, and was transferred to the Canadian Militia after the war, retiring with the rank of major.

Russell served as the director of the Royal Ontario Museum of Paleontology from 1946 to 1950, before working at the National Museums of Canada in multiple roles: Chief, Zoology Section (1950-1956); director, Natural History (1956-1963); and acting director, Human History (1958-1963). Russell once again returned to a newly amalgamated ROM to lead the Life Sciences division in 1963, and a year later was appointed the museum’s chief biologist along with a professorship in geology at the University of Toronto. Russell officially retired in 1971 but continued to work out of his office in the ROM daily. He would also return to Alberta for fieldwork each summer well into his eighties.

Russell's discoveries concerning dinosaurs and early mammals were particularly important. His 1965 paper, “Body Temperature of Dinosaurs and Its Relationship to Their Extinction,” marked the first time someone suggested that dinosaurs might have been warm blooded. An interest in material history also led him to research oil lamps, making original and fundamental contributions to the history of lighting and material culture in 19th-century North America. The books resulting from this research include A Heritage of Light (1968), Handy Things to Have Around the House (1979) and Every Day Life in Colonial Canada (1980).

Russell died in Toronto on July 6, 1998 at the age of 95.


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2/21/2023 E. Thomas (Creation)
5/29/2023 E. Thomas (VIAF added)




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