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Two items



     1)  Does anybody have a count of the number of colleges and 
     universities here in the US that offer dinosaur courses?
     
     2)  I finally got around to reading the Mhyrvold/Currie sauropod tail 
     paper in _Paleobiology_.  One of the pieces of evidence for tail 
     flexibility in diplodocids (p. 400 of their paper) is a _Diplodocus_ 
     tail preserved _in situ_ at the Howe Quarry which has "an articulated 
     column of caudal vertebrae arranged in a circular loop...we can 
     estimate the angles between the caudal vertebrae in situ.  The most 
     highly curved portion of this loop executes a 180-degree bend over six 
     caudal vertebra joints, for an average angle per joint of 30 degrees."
     
     Well, folks, I can top that.  Have a look at the photograph on page 56 
     of R.T. Bird's memoir, _Bones for Barnum Brown_ (Texas Christian 
     University Press, 1985).  This shows another _in situ_ diplodocid tail 
     from the Howe Quarry that Bird photographed during Brown's excavation 
     in 1934.  This tail is so tightly looped that it almost takes a figure 
     8 shape.  Of particular interest is the loop of the tail toward the 
     bottom of the page, where the orientation of the tail reverses itself 
     over TWO joints, the two joints being at the proximal and distal ends 
     of the same caudal vertebra.  This means that there is almost a 90 
     degree angle between this vertebra and the vertebrae that precede and 
     follow it in the beast's tail. 
     
     On a personal note, I found this photograph in a photo album when I 
     visited the Bird family home to interview RT's widow and sister while 
     I was preparing notes to accompany the text of _Bones for Barnum 
     Brown_.  You never know what's going to turn up in such archival 
     excavations.  On the same trip RT's sister gave me the originals of 
     Bird's maps of the Paluxy River and Davenport Ranch dinosaur footprint 
     sites.  One of my more productive trips...