STL Science Center

STL Science Center

16 November 2011

Discovering a Discoverer

Until now we haven't had cause really to talk about Jack Horner's past. I haven't really stopped to talk about him either because this blog is much more about the animals than the people. However, it being Wednesday and the original point of Wednesday being to introduce us to the discovery process and the people who did the discovering, I shall do a little of that.

Horner is, let me do some math, 65 this year. A healthy 65 I imagine since he's still chugging along in his profession. He has made many discoveries and named a good handful of animals and also had some named after him at the specific level. He supposedly never finished his bachelor's (one cannot believe everything on the internet so I take it with a grain of salt) but I don't know if that is expressly true because I have never had the pleasure of speaking with him (since he never emailed me back when I was looking at colleges last year- I'm not bitter though that sounds it). Horner also spent some time in the Marines during Vietnam before coming back to the world and going back to his love of science and dinosaurs. becoming prominent around the same time as Dale Russell and Robert Bakker he is sometimes seen as the nemesis of one or the other, but, let's face it, not one of the three is an evil scientist to the other two as superheroes, so when people pit them against one another it's just kind of silly.

Jack Horner's first big time breakthrough came with the discovery of Maiasaura and its nests which he describes himself in a video which I have posted here before. His description of the initial find is that basically he got a call from the lady, Laurie Trexler, who found the initial remains to come check out some rocks she had found and was selling in her store and one turned out to actually be a baby dinosaur. Neat story actually. Maiasaura's discovery is one of those strange stories in science, but it was really that simple as well. The rest is history as Horner and his crew spent the next couple of years unearthing what amounts to an enormous dinosaur herd's entire spawning ground.

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