Saturday, October 11, 2014


At the top of the stairs the paleontologist set the steel mug of coffee on the ledge, turned, and shut the door. He turned back, stooped to grip the wolf-handle and then descended to his study, past the fevered, glassy skyline of Tourment Verte, Lucid, Suisse Verte, and Grande Absente.
At the bottom of the stairs he turned left and headed between rows of boxes toward his workdesk. On the left, he passed a large Allosaurus skull (a cast), then a stack of papers that includes the complete correspondences between Gilmore and Dunkle, and then a music stand that holds up an original copy of Osborn (1912) for quick reference; on the right three full bookshelves, the last devoted entirely to tyrannosaurids, conceal the wall like an onyx catacomb. The massive surangular of an adult T. rex partly covers the floor below the last cliff like rookery.
His hand reached for the dehumidifier and pressed the button off; the fan stopped and silence lowered the drawbridge for his mind. He turned to the table, littered with casts of Jane’s disarticulated skeleton: skull bones, hemal arches, and other parts of the postcranium – whatever the moments demanded – were at hand, unreturned to the orderly desk and shelves around the corner. To the left, the flatscreen monitor stands above the ivory chaos like a hovering monolith.
To the right the desk is stacked with papers and books, with casts of a dentary and scapulocoracoid piled on top; binders of scientific articles and photo albums of bones fill the seat next to his. He set the mug between the casts of a quadratojugal and the hemal arches, and put the laptop between the arches and a binder that is open to the appendix of Currie et al. (2003), itself covered by the cast of the opposite dentary. The appendix is the one he’ll next incorporate into his opus. He opened the laptop screen, and plugged in the power cord and the external hard drive.
He resumed work at character 419 of Loewen et al. (2013), which pertains to the relative sizes of the pubic and ischial peduncles of the ilium as seen from the side. From that starting point, he included the rest of the pelvic characters into the manuscript. An hour later he reached the femur; in the meantime, a migraine steadily overshadowed the afternoon course of his work. After another 40 minutes he stopped, leaving the last of the femoral characters from Loewen et al. (2013) for the next day. The manuscript had climbed to 382 pages.
References cited
Loewen, M. A., Irmis, R. B., Sertich, J. J. W., Currie, P. J., and S. D. Sampson. 2013. Tyrant dinosaur evolution tracks the rise and fall of Late Cretaceous oceans. PLoS ONE 8: 1-14.
Osborn, H.F. 1912. Crania of Tyrannosaurus and Allosaurus. Memoirs of the American Museum of Natural History 1: 330.
Currie, P.J., J.H. Hurum, and K. Sabath. 2003. Skull structure and evolution in tyrannosaurid dinosaurs. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 48: 227234.

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