Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jersey Boy Visits Maryland

Two weeks ago my cousin was married (congratulations again if you are reading this!) in Maryland.  When I got the news that I would be making a trip down for a weekend the first thing my dinosaur-obsessed brain thought was "Hey, Dr. Thomas Holtz is a professor there!".  Dr. Holtz is a well known paleontologist who does most of his work studying tyrannosaurids.  He was also featured in this blog's very first post earlier this year.  I promptly contacted him and asked if he would be teaching that Friday and to my delight he told me he was and I was more than welcome to sit in on his lecture.  I ended up having wake up at 5 AM to drive four and a half hours from New Jersey down to the University of Maryland for his 10 AM lecture.  It was totally worth it though.  Lets just say I wish all college professors were as excited about their subject as he is.  After lecture was over we went to his office and talked dinosaurs for a few hours.   

Dr. Thomas Holtz and I at the University of Maryland

Keep in mind I drove down myself.  The rest of my family wasn't getting down there until later that evening and I couldn't check into the hotel room until later that afternoon!  What to do, what to do....oh yeah, duh.  The National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian) is just a short drive away!  Now, living in NJ, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City is just a few minutes away for my house.  That being said, I am spoiled when it comes to dinosaur museums but I must say the National Museum did not disappoint!

National Museum's Dinosaur Hall. 

They had a lot of cool skeletal mounts.  My favorite thing there probably had to be their Triceratops (My favorite dinosaur...I'm biased).  They had a skeleton, a skull in a glass box, a cast of a horn you could touch and a newer video playing showing how scientists currently think the animal would have moved.  You can actually see this video and some other neat pictures on their website here if you can't make the trip down to see it in person yourself. 

Triceratops at the National Museum

The marine fossil section I found really beautiful as well. Check out the detail in that diorama!  The artist side of me got a little dizzy just looking at it.

Just think.  Somebody had to make that.

One unique fossil there on display that I took a liking to was called a Deomonelix or "Devil's Corkscrew".  I actually learned about it in Dr. Holtz's lecture earlier that day.  Its a trace fossil in the form of a burrow dug out by a prehistoric beaver (existed after the dinosaurs but before us).  The burrow filled in and created a mold complete with the poor animals remains at the bottom.  What a neat find!

Deomonelix on display at the National Museum.  See the beaver skeleton at the bottom?

All in all it was a successful trip.  I didn't even mind the fact that my car was towed while I was in the museum.  (Stupid DC parking laws.  How was I supposed to know I was blocking rush hour traffic!?!?)

My sister and I at the wedding reception the day after.  Yes, there are dinosaurs on my tie. 

Join me next week for another sexy, dinosaur-related post!  Also if anyone is interested Dr. Thomas Holtz has a twitter account right here.  Also you can purchase some of his books here and here.  See you next week!

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