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UC Berkeley's dedication (long review)



        This last Sunday was the dedication and reception of the 
     UCBerkeley's new Valley Life Sciences Building, (the new paleontology 
     dept) and the 'unveiling' of the T rex mount in the atrium.  So, like 
     others, I went. 
        The new building (griffon and cowskull motif) is built over the 
     shell of the old building, and had a storage vault of fossils that 
     originally had been stored in 9 different biuldings.  The Vertebrate 
     Paleontology Collections director (maybe not proper title) Judy 
     Scotchmoor said it makes the UCB fossil collection the 4th largest 
     collection in the world, being beat-out by the Smithsonian, AMNH, and 
     the something or other field collection. 
         Everything in the fossil vault was on this real cool rail system 
     with lots of cabinets mounted on a cart which sat on a rail and could 
     be moved by rotating a wheel mounted on the side (not open to the 
     public but very cool).  This allows for more 2 story cabinets to be 
     used in a given space.  They have a lot of cabinets, ranged from 
     microfossils, plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates.  The real big 
     stuff is not stored currently in the vault system as they had just 
     finished moving all the specimens from the 9 other locations to this 
     one location 2 wks earlier.  I asked what kind of storage they used 
     for their 'hot' fossils, and one of the Drs. showing the vault to us 
     tourists (she specialised in microfossils- her first name was Kate) 
     said that they'd tested the Morrison fossils they had at one time and 
     none were hot.  I always wondered about that.  The anthropology 
     fossils are NOT at this location (probably some safe somewheres).  
     Since they had only gotten all the specimens put away on the right 
     shelves 2 wks ago from so many other locations, they're not entirely 
     sure of just what they currently have, but they're gonna spend an 
     awful long time figuring the stuff out.
        I wanted to know what they were going to do with the 
     Parasaurolophus cast (in matrix) that used to be in the old stair 
     well.  They said they were going to set that and the old mosasaur and 
     ichthyosaur wall mounts up in the large displays set up on either hall 
     way branching out from where the T rex was.  The triceratops skull is 
     on display in the research library.
        Now the T rex is in the center of the 3 story, 20 ft wide spiral 
     staircase.  This is a cast of the one Jack Horner dug up in that NOVA 
     special all that time ago.  How do you fit a 35 ft long T rex into a 
     20 ft space?  You curve the tail around under one side of the 
     staircase, and turn the head just before it hits the other side of the 
     opposite staircase.  Cramped, but a very nice mount  (90 % 
     complete-don't know where they found the remaining bits).  From what 
     people have been saying here about tail stiffness, perhaps too curved, 
     but nice.  (I have a very bad feeling about this mount since it's 
     welded to a steel base on wheels, and it's in earthquake country and 
     that stairwell is awfully close should it ever decide to roll....)
        Hanging over its torso by a good 15 ft is a Pteranodon mount by 
     Kevin Padian.  Who was supposed to speak about it but Jack Horner's 
     talk ran long.  Jack was followed by a Herpatology professor that 
     spoke about reptile and amphibiam metabolism, and behavior seemingly 
     atypical of the group.
        Jack Horner talked about T rex, much of which sounds like stuff 
     others have said he talks about.  I hadn't realised T rex arms don't 
     emerge from the body till the elbow. I thought they were totally free 
     up to the armpit.  He seemed bored during the whole thing, but he 
     perked-up particularily with the new audio/visual equipment set-up in 
     the room he was to lecture in, and played with all the buttons for a 
     while.  He did not rip on JP as much as I have heard him do in the 
     past, perhaps because Dennis Muren and his family were sitting in the 
     back of the auditorium.  (I talked with Dennis Muren, I got his 
     autograph. I am a happy camper)
       --Dennis and Jack both said the JP sequel was THE LOST WORLD--
        (Funny juxtaposition story...new atrium with construction still 
     going on around it, new T rex mount sitting in central stairwell area 
     with second story starting near head, banner behind it telling about 
     new dinosaur exhibit..with Dennis Muren standing in front of it 
     talking about the final sequence in JP.  Was very surreal)
         Kevin Padian was wondering around with a dinosaur bone fragment in 
     his hand during the reception, that he was hoping someone named Harvey 
     would agree that it was a T rex arm bone.  Was light brown, and looked 
     like it had been collected in the old days (very shellac-y looking).
        The food was good and it was fun.  I wanna see the Parasauralophus 
     up close, but I'll have to wait till next spring when they finish 
suckering 
     some students into moving the wall displays.
     
     -Betty Cunningham
     (bettyc@flyinggoat.com in the studio) 
     (bcunning@nssi.com at work)