6 Jul 2001 jfleck   » (Master)

I have the coolest job.

Yesterday I got to hold, in my own modest little hands, fossils dug from the Earth more than a century ago by the great fossil-hunter Edward Drinker Cope. Much of his fossil-hunting was really done by others he paid to work on his behalf, but in 1874, he came to New Mexico with the Wheeler Survey and collected himself in the San Juan Basin. There, he found the first bones ever discovered of a giant flightless bird called Diatryma.

The fossils are in the collection of the American Museum of Natural History, and are on loan to a researcher here. Along with them came a little box of cataloguing papers, including a tiny slip written in Cope's own hand identifying the bones. I was afraid to touch that, but the bones I held.

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