Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Dinosaurs in Arizona?

The Arizona Science Center is holding an exhibit of animatronic (à la Disneyland) dinosaurs. They move and vocalize in the ways that, according to paleontologists, are true to life. Yes, we've all seen the computer animations on the Discovery Channel but it is still interesting to see dinosaurs in person, albeit some 50 to 150 million years after the fact.

Upon entering, I was greeted by an Apatosaurus found in what is now the western U.S. This creature was a long-necked plant eater that might grow to 70 feet in length and 30 tons — one of the largest animals that has ever existed. And the two on display were both smaller than that 70-foot monster. Can you image meeting a real animal of this size? That would be scary even if it is a herbivore.

Apatosaurus Momma Apatosaurus Juvenile
Our next friend is a distant relative of a Tyrannosaurus Rex— an Albertosaurus that wondered western North America 85 to 75 million years ago. In case you didn't guess from the size of those teeth, this guy was a meat eater. At maturity, it reached a size of only 26 feet compared to 43 feet for a T-rex. Scientists have discovered more than 30 individuals including 22 at one site — evidence that Alberto ran around in packs! Bad enough having to outrun this dude — a lot tougher trying to elude the entire pack of these bad boys and girls.

Albertosaurus Albertosaurus Teeth

EuoplocephalusNext on the tour was the Euoplocephalus — a well-armored beast with a large club-like tail. He may have been a plant eater but he looks like he had a really nasty disposition. Supposedly, its belly was not armored so if an attacker could flip it over on its back, it would be in real jeopardy. This one was posed as being threatened by the Albertosaurus — now that would have been interesting contest.

MaiasauraMaiasaura means "good mother lizard" and is a large duck-billed dinosaur. The reason for its name is the discovery by Jack Horner of a series of nesting sites with the remains of egg shells and hatchlings. This was the first evidence of giant dinosaurs raising and feeding their young. Look at that sweet face — it just looks so motherly.

She was watching over her nest (below) with eggs and young — with the help of her older juvenile offspring.

Maiasaura Juvenile Maiasaura babies
The next display was an attack by a pack of Deinonychus on a Tenontosaurus. I know we have all seen nature programs with a pack of lions bringing down a zebra — and this is in that same vein. The Deinonychus had a large, sickle-shaped talon on the second toe of each hind foot used to stab or slash its prey. The Tenontosaurus was still struggling but this victim will not last long.

And yes, it was a weekday but I feared busloads of students on field trips. Surprisingly, it was not overrun by kids (you know how kids love dinosaurs). A very interesting exhibit.


 Life is good.

 B. David