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University of Alberta students name popular plesiosaur ‘Dr. Deeno Hinshaw’

University of Alberta students name popular plesiosaur ‘Dr. Deeno Hinshaw’
A dinosaur naming contest at the University of Alberta has resulted in a creative way to honour Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health has been sent much praise and adoration as the province looks to its top doctor for guidance and information during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw has been the subject of artwork, t-shirts and has even sparked fashion movements.

Now, you can add a beloved University of Alberta landmark to the list of recognition the doctor has received.

READ MORE: Who is Dr. Deena Hinshaw? Alberta’s chief medical officer of health

A contest run by the U of A Palaeontological Society asked students to submit name ideas for a 30-foot long cast of a plesiosaur — a marine reptile — that has been a popular feature of the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science since it was installed.

In early April, the contest saw more than 200 name suggestions for the display, and about 600 people voted for the final name selections.

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The winning name: Dr. Deeno Hinshaw.

“I think it really highlights how appreciative people are of all the work she’s been doing,” paleontology graduate student Catie Strong said. “She’s become a very popular figure and an important part of many people’s lives, keeping them updated and informed.”

READ MORE: Dr. Hinshaw asks people to show #AlbertaCares during COVID-19 pandemic

The specimen, from the Cretaceous period, has long been an eye-catching and beloved fixture in the main sciences building.

“It also caught the attention of local Reddit users within the last month. It has become the subject of memes and lots of people wanted to put a cowboy hat on it. People are really into the plesiosaur,” laughed Strong.

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She said the cowboy hat wasn’t an option, but the group saw an opportunity to bring students together in another way.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: University of Alberta-based non-profit ramping up production of ventilator drugs

“The goal of the naming contest was to keep a sense of community. Things are quite chaotic right now, as the COVID-19 pandemic is happening,” Strong said. “We thought this would be a fun, lighthearted way to keep everyone connected.”

Hinshaw earned her master of public health degree in 2008, while completing her public health and preventive medicine residency at the U of A.

“It’s a nice recognition of [Dr. Hinshaw’s] hard work in this chaotic time that we are in,” said Strong. “[Her impact] is set in stone now.”

The paleontologist society notes that plesiosaurs are not dinosaurs, rather marine animals, but is it are “more than happy” with the results.

The runner-up name? Indiana Bones.