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Re: Millitary assistance?

> Hello all,
> Betty C.'s question about dig rigs (4X4's) prompted a private response
> suggesting a huey helicopter might be a good tool for field work. After
> sending that message I give the idea a little more thought and asked myself
> a new question."Has anyone tried to gain the assistance of the National
> Gaurd or other such millitary organization in the recovery of a really
> important but hard to handle specimen(s), and maybe even ferry the crew to
> hard to reach places?"
> [A few years ago an attempt was made to remove a large slab containing the
> holotype of the Ediacaran fossil _Charniodiscus arboreus_ from the Flinders
> Ranges, with the assistance of an army helicopter.  However the slab was
> too precariously placed to make extraction viable. - Chris]

The Australian army also provided transportation and logistical support
for a search for Mesozoic fossils, led by Dr John Long, in North-western
Australia a few years ago.  I don't have the details ready to hand, but I
can find them if people are sufficiently interested.
> It seems a worthwhile use of resources to me, but maybe I'm missing something.
> On a completely different tangent, regarding THE extinction that causes us
> to study, and not be, dinosaurs. Is it possible that a bolide could carry a
> biological agent that would have been able to spread throughout the
> biosphere, be impossible to detect now (or accepted as "always" being
> here), and deadly to almost everything? This would make Dr. Bakker right,
> but in the backdoor sortta way. I don't know if it's even possible for any
> microscopic life, as we know it, to survive who knows how long in space and
> the inital cause of it being there, survive the earth impact event, and
> then adapt to an alien ecosystem well enough to kill almost everything
> else. This agent could have died with its victims and left no evidence
> whatsoever, couldn't it?
> Before someone whips out the "Joe Friday" macro, I'm just asking if this is
> possible in your opinion, not speculating or suggesting that it did.

I think it's possible (shades of _The Andromeda Strain_!), but even given an
airborne vector, I find it difficult to imagine one virus being responsible
for that many extinctions, from dinosaurs to sharks to plankton.
        Incidentally, there's an sf story by Frank M. Robinson, 'The
Greatest Dying' in which a paleontologist finds a fragment of dinosaur
flesh preserved in amber, and in freeing it unleashes the disease
responsible for killing off the dinosaurs, which also proves fatal to
humans; the story also has an ingenious explanation for the iridium layer.

Stephen Dedman