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Tucson Tales I.



Tucson Tales I.

This is the first in a series of posts(until I run out
of notes) regarding the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, 
Tucson, AZ, Feb. 5-13, 1994. I spent the majority of my 
time in "Fossil Hall" at the Quality Inn. This area was 
widely recognized as perhaps the best fossil exhibit of 
all the myriad of Tucson shows.
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For those of you that aren't aware of what happens in Tucson 
every February, fossil and mineral dealers from all over the 
world with an incredible assortment of material turn the town 
convention center as well as maybe 50 hotels into one big rock 
and fossil shop. Most dealers set up right in their hotel room 
with trays on the beds and shelves, etc.  The larger dealers 
are in hotel convention rooms. The "main show" refers to the 
downtown convention center and lasts from Feb. 10-13. Hotel or 
"satellite" shows generally begin around Feb. 3-5 and end around 
the 13-15. The sum total of all the hotel shows probably exceeds 
the main show by a good margin, and the entire event pumps about 
$35 million into the local economy.

Some of the exhibitors at the Quality Inn included:

* The Black Hills Institute of Geological Research (BHIGR)
        (Hill City, SD)

This is the group that has found the T-rex's Sue, Stan 
and Duffy. They had some fascinating products including 
a set of casts from Stan's teeth. Most of Sue's teeth 
were still in the skull while Stan's tended to be loose
but still have their roots. Thus, they were able to cast
"study sets" of Stan's teeth which allows you to handle 
realistic T-rex teeth and feel their serrated edges. 

Also for sale were bronze and cast sculptures of Sue's 
skeleton done by artist Joe Tippman. Clearly visible on 
these sculptures are several pathological features of 
Sue such as the broken/rehealed left fibula, fused tail 
vertebrae and bony growth from injury to an eye socket.
The sculpture was available as complete skeleton, skull 
with neck vertebrae, or just skull. Terry Wentz, the main
preparator of Sue's skull was quoted as saying "it feels
like Sue". I'm not sure what the scale is, but the full
skeleton looked about 2 feet long x 1 foot high. Joe himself
was present and working live on a _full size_ sculpture of
Sue's skull.

Another eye-catcher was a full-sized mount(castings of original) 
of an Edmontosaurus skeleton. Other Edmontosaurus skulls were 
also on display.

A selection of videos was available which included much info 
on Sue. One of the videos was raw field footage of the discovery 
and excavation procedure, including some work back at the lab. 
This video was about a half hour and has not been edited, but 
I was glued to the monitor as I watched them excavate this 
terrific T-rex. I did get a feel for the incredible amount of time 
and expertise required to find, excavate, and prepare a fossil 
of this size. Other videos dealt primarily with the politics and 
legal battles. They also had a beautiful selection of ammonite 
fossils which may reflect vice-president Neal Larson's expertise 
in ammonites. 


* Dreamstar Productions - (Needville, TX)

This is a sculptor named John Fischner who does some of the 
best dinosaur sculptures anywhere. There were small sculptures 
of T-rex and triceratops hatchlings, midsize brachiasaurus, 
stegosaurus, mososaurs, and many others; but his showstoppers 
were a life sized velociraptor (you should have seen the kids
eyeing that one) and a full-sized headmount of a Corythosaurus 
(somewhat larger than a moosehead, it would look great in a bar:-)
John is not only an artist, but is a tireless researcher as well. 
He wants his work to be as scientifically accurate as possible 
and regularly attends SVP (Society of Vertebrate Paleontology) 
meetings to hear the latest ideas on anatomy, posture, and behavior.
John showed me some pictures of sculptures positioned in natural
wooded or lakeside settings and they look _very_ lifelike. 


* Warfield Fossils - (Thayne, WY)

I believe that Warfields primarily work the Green River Fm.,
an eocene deposit with rich fossil layers. They didn't have any 
dinosaurs but they had some great fish (giant Xiphactinus) and
some huge fossil palm fronds.

* The Look of the Past - (Moab, UT)

They had a nice selection of agatized dinosaur bone from the 
vicinity of Moab. It looked to be mostly sauropod bones but 
alot was small chunks and hard to tell. Being agatized, it 
takes a great polish and makes good cabochons, earrings, etc.
Marrow structures are well preserved through the agatization
process. Mostly a brownish color but nice reds and blues also.


End Tucson Tale I.