email - October 2002

First Fossil Hunter Correction

In our May 2002 Dinotopia essay we drew heavily on material in Adrienne Mayorís book, The First Fossil Hunters. On July 14 we received an email from her pointing out an error we made. We corrected the web page that evening, but have not had space to print the retraction in subsequent newsletters. (We donít have space this month, either, but we really donít want to delay it any more.)

Subject: Mayor's FFH
Date: Sun, 14 Jul 2002 13:27:48 EDT

Thanks for your extensive review of my book. Your layout is very fair, and I appreciate that even though I don't agree with your beliefs. (I will try for an EV+ rating in my next one)

I would like to request one correction in your "review." Actually, the following quote is not by me, but written by paleontologist Peter Dodson, who wrote the Foreword to my book.

ďAs a child, I was powerfully drawn to stones and bones. By age eleven I told my parents I wanted to be a paleontologist. Pursuing my dream of becoming a paleontologist, I studied geology in college. Here I learned rocks, I learned minerals, I learned invertebrate fossils. My head was stuffed with facts. Later in graduate school I learned vertebrate fossils, and I learned bones, and anatomy, and evolutionary theory. I handled bones, and my wish to study fossils themselves became a reality. It has been my joy and delight to pursue my career."

Given this background, she could not help but notice the remarkable similarity between the description of the Ďmythicalí griffin and reconstructions of Protoceratops. In fact, she has published drawings and photographs showing how much Protoceratops and Psittacosaurus must have looked like griffins.

Adrienne Mayor

This website describes my next project: NATIVE AMERICAN FOSSIL LEGENDS:

As she correctly points out, the passage we quoted was in the forward, not in the introduction, so it was not something she wrote. We apologize for the error.

We havenít printed the ratings explanation recently because it is redundant, and we havenít wanted to waste the space. Consequently, Adrienne probably hasnít read it, and doesnít know the difference between Ev and Ev+. The Ev rating means it was written by someone who sincerely believes in evolution. Ev+ means it was written by someone who is a really obnoxious evolutionist who viciously attacks creationists. We really donít expect to give her an Ev+ rating on her next book.

We generally donít print last names and email addresses of people who write to us. This is one of those rare instances where the writer is well-known, and has a relatively public email address. Furthermore, we wanted to publish the web site describing her next book, and you could easily get her email address from the web site. Finally, we donít expect anyone to write her any nasty email, so there isnít any need to protect her from it.

We really are looking forward to her next book because we expect her to publish some interesting legends about thunderbirds. We mentioned the remarkable similarity of thunderbirds and pterodactyls in our essay entitled Unicorns, etc. exactly four years ago. She, no doubt, will also provide us some valuable information about pterodactyl bones found in North America which match the Native American description of thunderbirds.

She, no doubt, will try to make the case that Native Americans didnít actually see living thunderbirds, but found their bones and inferred their existence and social behavior from them. Then she will argue that the great paleontologic skills of America Indians have been forgotten, just like the unknown, but clearly brilliant, Greek and Roman paleontologists have been overlooked by history. We expect her to say that although the stories (which have been passed down orally from generation to generation) say that warriors fought thunderbirds, those first warriors made up the stories after finding the bones. So, we will continue to disagree with her conclusions, but we will respect and greatly appreciate her excellent research.

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