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Re: interest in dinos



Lauri L. Bartlema wrote:
>We must all have basically the same story!  My interest started when I
>was very young, 3 or 4, and has never waned.

Well, not really. I suppose my first childhood fascination with science may
have been archaeology or math, but I don't remember my younger years very
well. I do remember a fascination with astronomy dawning about age 13, and
I briefly toyed with being an astronomer before majoring in electronic
engineering, then going off and writing about technology, eventually
evolving into a science writer.

Along the line, I started picking up an interest in historical geology,
arising from another early fascination I do remember -- maps. Ordinary
geology was just rocks, but historical geology was maps, and the former
owner of a house my parents bought when I was in college left behind an old
copy of Dunbar's Historical Geology text. Then, years later, I encountered
the Alvarez impact theory of dinosaur extinction, and started covering
that. To understand the extinction, I had to learn something about
dinosaurs, and I've grown increasingly interested since. I'm also
fascinated by other paleo-critters.

The ironic thing is that there were earlier opportunities. I remember
various visits to the American Museum of Natural History. It was not "just
another museum" because a couple of my mother's cousins and their father
worked there. Junius Bird was an archaeologist expert in South American
textiles. And Roland T. Bird found the Paluxy dinosaur trackway that is
partly on display at the museum. My mother later told me about seeing R.T.
prepare a map of the Paluxy footprints on a huge sheet of paper, which he
rolled up and took on the trolley from Rye, NY (where he was staying at the
time) to the museum in New York. But of course I, being a stupid kid, never
took the opportunity to chase down R.T., who died about 1978. I can't
remember if I ever met him. I did meet Junius, and remember that my cousins
and I were enthralled by his tales, although the tales themselves long ago
faded from my mind.

-- Jeff Hecht