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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...