Tahlequah Daily Press

June 13, 2013

Teens learn paleontology, teamwork

By ROB W. ANDERSON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Sometimes academic competitiveness can produce negative, even embarrassing, results.

Participants of the Tahlequah Public Library summer teen program watched a short video called “The Bone Wars,” or what is also known as the Great Dinosaur Rush, before beginning the week’s Beneath the Surface activity on Wednesday.

Like paleontologists, four different teams shared a fossil excavation process to uncover the bones of a dinosaur for bone, or specimen reconstruction.

 Unlike the infamous and rival paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh featured in the video, each team worked together to ensure their bone arrangement was correct.

Cope reconstructed a strange fossil specimen that was identified as the Elasmosaurus, which was a sea creature that had a sort giraffe-like body structure with a long neck and short tail, and incorrectly placed the head of the creature on the tail end, or what academic rival Marsh made sure everyone knew - the wrong end.

After viewing the video, 12-year-old participant Donovan Ross-Keetle made the observation that rushing to be the first to complete a project or comparing report cards isn’t very smart.

“If discovering someone is as smart as you are, you should make them a friend,” he said.

According to history on the men, Cope, who was with the Academy of Natural Sciences, and Marsh, who represented the Peabody Museum of Natural History, tried to undermine each other’s efforts, resorted to bribery, theft and even destroyed bones. Their actions ultimately ruined their academic credibility and ended their research funding.

 

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