Magazine article National Forum

Note from the Editor

Magazine article National Forum

Note from the Editor

Article excerpt

IN THIS ISSUE

The title of this issue is a pun. Of course this issue is literally about digging dinosaurs finding fossils, preparing them, wresting from the bones their secrets. But on another level, it is about digging dinosaurs in the time-honored Beat meaning of the word: enjoying all there is to know about one of the most successful species in earth's long history. Personally, I have always dug dinosaurs. As a child, whenever there was an elementary school science fair to participate in, I would do dinosaurs. No artist, I would nevertheless carefully and laboriously craft models from clay, build them an environment in a cardboard box (complete with plastic fems and make-up-mirror pond), label them with their proper names, and present them for display.

With the passing of elementary school came the passing of science fairs, but my love for things ancient and weird remained. I could not bring myself to pursue the field as a profession, opting instead for the far more lucrative field of literature (note: irony present), in which I could read books in air-conditioned comfort rather than crawl around the Gobi Desert in 120 deg heat. But to this day I still seek out the latest tomes on paleontology at the local bookstore and thrill to the discoveries happening every day as scientists push our knowledge of these strange and wonderful creatures further and further. The articles in this issue cover some of the most interesting recent theories and the discoveries that support those theories. Our authors represent a stellar and varied cross-section of working paleontologists.

To lead off, Jack Horner, who is among the best-known fossil hunters of the day, discusses his and his colleagues' work in dinosaur behavior, most notably in how dinosaurs cared for their young. His painstaking analysis of dinosaur nesting sites suggests that at least one species cared for its offspring in much the same way that modern birds (probable descendants of one branch of dinosaurs) do. In an article that touches on both behavior and physiology, David Varrichio speculates on the controversy over whether dinosaurs were endotherms (warm-blooded) or ectotherms (cold-blooded). Drawing on a variety of evidence and pointing out the difficulties inherent in trying to determine dinosaur metabolism when only their ancient bones remain, he concludes with a definite maybe: maybe some dinosaurs were warm-blooded and others were not. …

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