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Uphill Both Ways

Volume 9 - Boston 1956


they ran into what was really a block, a large chunk of bone that didn’t seem to be in the right place.

While neither had a degree, both knew what they were doing inside that skull. They understood skull anatomy, what structures would be present, orbits, nasal septae, maxillary sinuses, etc. No problem, until they hit this odd-looking chunk. They dug it out and set it on the table because they had become suspicious. Examination revealed that some of the surfaces of the block had to have been exterior bone (I assume it was something like cancellous bone you see on skulls and scapulas today). It bothered them that exterior surfaces would be down inside the skull and it bothered them that the various planes of this chunk didn’t articulate with adjacent internal structures. The more the looked at it and thought about its surfaces the more troubled they became both because of the apparent dishonesty

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    and because they had to put it back somewhere in the skull.

Well, they drug Dr. Romer up to jaw about this anomalous chunk of bone. All of them accepted the basic premise that the piece of bone actually was part of this skull. That may sound like a silly thing for me to suggest but it isn’t. When you are in a quarry, there can be all kinds of critters in one bone pile and it is not that unusual for bones to be assigned to the wrong creature or labeled wrong out in the quarry. Witness Diplodocus’ skull, improperly assigned for a hundred years by a most prominent paleontologist. For whatever reason, these men accepted that this chunk was Kronosaurus.

Next, they talked about shapes and surfaces. They looked at Dr. (name withheld)’s skull -yeah, HIS- and began to wonder, “Why did he put it there?” They finally agreed that it just didn’t fit where it was placed. They were puzzled about why Dr. X d would have placed this bone down inside of the skull, buried the bone under plaster, when it should have formed the exterior surface. It finally became painfully clear that Dr. X sort of fudged when he reconstructed the skull.

Instead of positioning this large fragment with external surfaces on the surface of the skull, he chose to create a skull shaped like a bullet, smooth from the nose to the base of the skull over the foramen magnum. It was as if he had a preconception that this monster had a stream-lined, sleek skull, even though no skull known for an dinosaur specie had such a skull. In fact, this bone ended up being part of the high arch above the eyes, making a bony ridge over the skull:

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