Raise your hand if you wanted to be a paleontologist when you were little. Umm humm, I see. You in the back…what stopped you? Well, there were no colleges around here that specialized in that field and the closest I could get was archaeology. Not that anything was wrong with that field as I didn’t know many other kids in 7th grade reading Archaeology Magazine (much less able to spell the word), but giving pretend lectures gets a little old.
You see, my love affair with dinosaurs started when I was three years old. My dad brought home the biggest book I had ever seen full of color pictures and descriptions of every dinosaur imaginable…at the time. I memorized everything in that book over the years. I even discovered that Othniel Marsh, a paleontologist I admired from the late 1800’s, had erroneously named the Brontosaurus. Unfortunately, he had mistakenly taken the head of a Camarasaurus and put it on the body of the Apatosaurus. Most people still did not know this over a 100 years later so I felt compelled to tell anyone who would listen to me. Seriously, I did. Luckily for me, I got my chance in college.
The local museum that I loved so dearly was advertising its first ever live animation dinosaur display outside in the summer. All I had to do was volunteer and I could be a guide (well that and take a class about everything I already knew…sigh). I got to wear an outfit that looked like Dr. Alan Grant from one of my favorite books (before it was a movie) and I got to carry a cool pack with a giant replica of a Tyrannosaurus tooth. I was pretty awesome. Don’t judge.
There were smoke machines, it was hotter than a Mesozoic jungle, and there were dinosaurs roaring in the distance. Timid children were afraid to come in and I beckoned them on with a smile. I told them I would be their guide while pulling out my fake tooth…it always made them curious. I lead them past the Velociraptor, to look at his cousin Deinonychus. This display was a bit graphic so I usually hurried them on as a Tenontosaurus was being munched on…without his head. One of my favorites was the Dilophosaurus since it was made popular by the movie Jurassic Park. He is seen spitting on that guy Nedry and for some reason it cracks me up. Sick humor, I know. Moving on, let’s get past the usual suspects. Allosaurus, looks similar to T-Rex, and then we have the Triceratops. Overhead, the Pteranodon could be seen. Lastly, we come to my all time favorite. The mistaken dinosaur of long-ago that I liked to lecture about. Here was my chance to correct the mistake. The Apatosaurus mother and baby. Dumb ole’ Wikipedia has the audacity to list the names as synonyms. Sigh. I guess it’s time to put on my outfit and go over there to correct them.
“I tended to faint when I saw accident victims in the emergency ward, during surgery, or while drawing blood.” ~Michael Crichton