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Beautiful fossils



A list of personal favorites, not necessarily in any order:

1. Seeing the "brooding" Oviraptor.  I got to actually see it when it was
displayed briefly at the AMNH in NYC a couple of years ago.  Poignant, no
matter the interpretation.
2. Looking at the Hadrosaur "mummy", also at the AMNH.  Fascinating. 
3. Standing before the complete, but distorted, skull of T. rex, eye to
eye, at AMNH.  The impulse is to toast or at least salute it.
4. I second the other nomination of the recent feathered theropods from
China, though I've only seen photographs.  Awesome.
5. Any intact crinoid is beautiful.
6. Any rolled up or molting trilobite is beautiful, especially the ones
with pyrite permineralizations.
7. Looking down the thoracic, cervical, or lumbar vertebrae of a sauropod
to see the "I-beam" effect.  Drop dead gorgeous.
8. I second the nomination of Velociraptor and Protoceratops locked
together, though I've only seen photos.
9. Looking up at the Barosaurus restoration rearing up, head 40 feet plus
off the ground, at the AMNH.  Ouch.
10. An accurately restored full mouth plus teeth of the giant great white
shark, Cacharadon (sp?) megalodon.  Mind boggling.
11. Holding in one's hand an intact molar from a mastodon or mammoth. 
Incredible.
12. "Irish Elk" antlers. Unbelievable.
13. A Triassic trackway of Kayentapus that shows it trot, slow down,
stand in one spot momentarily, then turn 90 degrees and continue off at a
trot again.  What was on its mind as it stopped?  What did it see, smell,
or hear?  Culpeper quarry, Culpeper, Va, beautiful imprints in mud stone,
almost as clear as the day they were made. 

[Unfortunately almost all these prints have been destroyed by
exfoliation.  If you want to see them, Weishampel has photos of this
trackway in his "Dinosaurs of the East Coast," and Walter Cronkite
ponders the tracks on the "Dinosaurs" special series he did back in the
early 90s.]

All these give me the five-year-old *wow* response.  In person they are
stupendous.   
I grew up going to the AMNH during my early school years, and the new
renovation of the old fossil halls is just wonderful.  Part of every
holiday visit home is a pilgrimage to AMNH; I can't stop being awed by it
all.

Judy Molnar
Education Associate, Virginia Living Museum
vlmed@juno.com
jamolnar@juno.com
All questions are valid; all answers are tentative.

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