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"Alias Brontosaurus"


Fri, Apr 6th, 2001
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Monday, April 9, 2001

Although known as Brontosaurus to most people the long-necked giant dinosaur serving as the mascot of the Sinclair Oil Company, or as Fred Flintstoneís "steam shovel" for all you cartoon fans, is in reality properly called Apatosaurus. In a way this is unfortunate since when translated Brontosaurus literally means "Thunder Lizard," a name that does seem particularly fitting for a beast estimated to have weighed some 25 to 30 tons when alive and which presumably unleashed a rumbling shockwave with each and every ground pounding step that it took.

Be that as it may, the confusion surrounding the correct name of this long extinct animal dates back to the early days of American fossil hunting. Back to the time of the "Great Bone War," the heated battle for control of dinosaurs unearthed in the western United States waged by Edward Drinker Cope and O.C. Marsh over the last three decades of the nineteenth century. A bitter lifelong feud fought by two of historyís greatest paleontologists, which was destined to become a tale of almost mythological proportions.

Naturally, the scientific acclaim associated with being the first to describe a new species of dinosaur was of paramount importance to both Cope and Marsh. This in turn sparked a frenzied race in search of ever more spectacular fossil discoveries that would ultimately lead to the description of over 130 previously unknown dinosaur species. The chaotic headlong pace of these research activities, however, made occasional mistakes inevitable. While both men would make their fair share of blunders, O.C. Marsh was to do so with almost reckless abandon in the case of Apatosaurus.

This strange odyssey begins in 1877 when Marsh first applied the name Apatosaurus to one of two fragmentary skeletons discovered near Morrison, Colorado. Wasting little time in raising the cloud of confusion still surrounding this particular dinosaur, Marsh promptly christened the second of these partial skeletons Atlantosaurus in 1878.

It was the recovery of yet another far larger specimen from Como Bluff, Wyoming in 1879, again described by Marsh but this time as Brontosaurus, which would solidly establish the continuing misconceptions regarding the animalís name. The novelty of this sensational fossil, today still one of the most complete gigantic long-necked dinosaur skeletons ever found, immediately captured the interest of the popular press of the age. The prodigious amo .....
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Escape from America

Fri, Apr 6th, 2001
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Monday, December 11, 2000

I guess Iím a snowbird at heart because every year about this time, once the temperature dips below zero and looks like itís going to stay there awhile, I start yearning to go south. Way south. All the way down to Ecu ..... 
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The End of Treadmill Time

Fri, Apr 6th, 2001
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Monday, April 9, 2001

It must be spring, or at least the calendar tells us it must be. The first cardinal of the season finally found our bird feeder, just in time to begin discovering his naturally provided foods as they are exposed from unde ..... 
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Something smells fishy

Fri, Apr 6th, 2001
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Monday, April 2, 2001

A lot of people have been asking me why the county is dumping the county engineer, Steve Voigt. "What has he done wrong?" they ask, implying that there is some smoking gun somewhere that would point to malfeasance or insu ..... 
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