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Re: What are the biggest highlights of modern paleontology?



I guess it depends on which taxa set your heart a-flutter, but I would pick 
either feathered dinos in general, or the amazing early turtle Odontochelys 
semitestacea.

Ronald Orenstein
1825 Shady Creek Court
Mississauga, ON L5L 3W2
Canada
ronorenstein.blogspot.com


________________________________
From: Raptorial Talon <raptorialtalon@gmail.com>
To: Clair Ossian <clastic@verizon.net> 
Cc: DML <DINOSAUR@usc.edu> 
Sent: Saturday, February 2, 2013 5:21:18 PM
Subject: Re: What are the biggest highlights of modern paleontology?

> How modern is modern? How far back do you wish to go.

Well, in my (shamefully truncated) first message, I said I was
interested in the past 10-20 years. There's been a whirlwind of
advancement and major discoveries over that timeframe, and I want
audiences to have the sense that paleontology is a dynamic, active
field which is growing and incorporating cutting-edge science. Too
many members of the general public still seem to, as it were, imagine
paleontology to be a bunch of privileged old white men in suits
smoking pipes and bantering in stuffy language about half-forgotten
bones. Or, worse, they imagine that the field is all expeditions to
exotic locales in order to find bones and mount them in museums like
trophies.

When I have the opportunity, I try to challenge the stereotypes and
try to bring the importance of the field home to people - namely that
paleontology is a huge part of the context of who we are as living
beings, and thus that it powerfully shapes our worldview of what
humanity is. But I still have to deal with people who insist on asking
why it's "practical," at one extreme, and at the other with people who
think it's terrible that museums mount replicas instead of real bones,
because they feel cheated by it (as though fossils exist for their
entertainment instead of as valid objects of research).

So, discoveries over the last decade or two that can fire up people's
interest while illustrating the realities (and even nuances) of the
field would be great to have. And like 
atter, but a diversity of opinion would surely help refine
those ideas.