Author Topic: Career activity update #3 (It's a big 1)!  (Read 506 times)


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Career activity update #3 (It's a big 1)!
« on: April 30, 2020, 01:07:51 PM »
I originally posted the following at deviantART ( ).

Hi everybody,

1stly, as you may remember, my last career activity update was back in 8/2015 ( ). Since then, I got a Cashier Assistant job at a Boston area Whole Foods Market, transferred to a Seattle area WFM, & got a Gallery SPARK (= Sharing Passion, Advocacy, Research, & Knowledge) volunteership at the Burke Museum. More specifically, I help visitors interpret the dino exhibits in "Fossils Uncovered" (which is arranged in roughly chronological order, beginning w/the Cambrian Explosion & ending w/the 6th Mass Extinction: ). I wanted to tell you right when I started my volunteership back in 10/2019, but decided to wait until my 1st Volunteer Appreciation Night just to be safe.

2ndly, as you may have noticed, this is a big career activity update. That's b/c of the following "Interpretation & Dino Exhibit Resources" (which I posted in the "Gallery SPARKs" Google Group to celebrate my 1st Volunteer Appreciation Night).

Herman Diaz

Interpretation in general

I originally learned about interpretation the Sam Ham way (I.e. It's 1] Enjoyable, 2] Relevant, 3] Organized, & 4] Thematic). Sam Ham goes into more detail & uses more examples in Chapter 1 of "Environmental Interpretation", which I recommend reading (See pages 3-35):

Since SPARKs are roving interpreters, I also recommend reading "Roving Interpretation" in the "Student Conservation Association Public Safety Intern Handbook" (See pages 82-85). It reminds me of the SPARK Manual, but more well-organized:

1 more thing: Remember "Thing Explainer" from the SPARK trainings? That reminds me of what Scott Sampson said in the Preface of "Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life": "To my mind, all science writing should follow Albert Einstein’s dictum: “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”" ( ). I think it'd be good to remember the "not simpler" part when interpreting things. We don't wanna simplify things to the point of being meaningless. That's a problem many children's books have. For example, compare the following definitions:
-In Don Lessem's "Dinosaur Worlds", "amphibians" = "vertebrate animals...that lay their eggs in water but usually spend their adult life on land".
-In Don Lessem's "The Ultimate Dinopedia: The Most Complete Dinosaur Reference Ever", "AMPHIBIAN" = "animal that is able to live both on land and in water".

Interpretation of the dino exhibits: This is how I interpret the dino exhibits based on the above resources; I hope this helps you make your own interpretive outline based on the above resources.

"Hello, I'm Herman, a Gallery SPARK here at the Burke. How are you today? I'm here to help visitors interpret the dinosaur exhibits because dinosaurs are the most awesome land animals, so let me know if you have any questions or comments."

Triassic stuff: Dinos weren't always the most awesome land animals.
-The earliest dinos & their ancestors (E.g The Asilisaurus on display) were small, lightly-built, 2-legged carnivores or omnivores trying to stay out of the way of the dominant land animals.
-The dominant carnivores included phytosaurs (E.g. The Machaeroprosopus on display), a group of weird Triassic reptiles that looked & acted like crocs, but were only distantly related. You can tell by the position of the nostrils (Point out the relevant signage).
-Illustration w/text (in reference to phytosaurs dominating the earliest dinos):
-The dominant herbivores included rhynchosaurs (E.g. The Stenaulorhynchus on display), a group of weird Triassic reptiles w/strong hind feet for digging up roots & tubers, curved beaks for cutting them up, & rows of teeth on the roof of the mouth for grinding them up (Point out the curved beak on the skull).
-Illustration w/text (in reference to rhynchosaurs dominating dino ancestors):
-Only after the end-Triassic extinction event did dinos become really big & diverse (Point out the Allosaurus & Stegosaurus skeletons as examples of dinos becoming really big & diverse).

Stegosaurus skeleton & Zamites cycad fossil: 1 of the weirdest-looking land animals.
-Stego plates 1: "Things that stick out of your head or stick out of your back are nearly always used first to intimidate...sexual rivals...second maybe as a radiator, but the main reason for moose antlers or [Stego plates] is to intimidate your rivals" (See 6:10-40: ).
-Stego plates 2:
-Stego spikes (See the last paragraph):
-Stego heads 1 (See "Stegosaur Seed Dispersal"):
-Stego heads 2 (in reference to the cycad stuff in the above link):

Allosaurus & Archaeopteryx (I.e. The earliest known bird) skeletons: Comparing their features is a good way to show the transition from non-bird dinos like Allosaurus to modern birds (I.e. The most speciose land vertebrates) w/Archaeopteryx being intermediate.
-The public bone & "back-grabber toe" are good examples of how Archaeopteryx is intermediate between non-bird dinos & modern birds:
-The hands are another good example (Allosaurus has 3-fingered hands like raptor dinos & Archaeopteryx, but no "swivel joint on the wrist"):

T.rex skull: The strongest bite of any land animal.
-We know this b/c of T.rex bite marks found on Triceratops bones. A 1996 study reproduced these bite marks "using cast replicas of a T. rex tooth and ramming it into...cow bone" (which has the same density as Triceratops bone: ). Over 3,000 pounds of force were needed, & that was on 1 tooth; Multiply that by a whole mouthful & you get 8,000 pounds of force.
-If you look closely, you can tell that T.rex's skull was well-adapted to cope w/this. Sutures acted as shock-absorbers, "taking up some of the stress caused [by] the force of the bite", & fused nasals reinforced the skull ( ).
-Illustration w/text (in reference to the puncture-pull stuff in the above link):

Triceratops skull: 1 of the largest skulls of any land animal ("The largest skull found has an estimated length of 8.2 feet"; See "An elephant-size dinosaur": ).
-Most horned dino frills were thin w/large openings. Triceratops' frill "was a solid shield of bone up to two inches thick" ( ), 7 times thicker than the average human skull, & covered in keratin like our fingernails.
-Most dinos had a hinged neck joint like our elbows (which can only go up & down). Triceratops had a ball-in-socket neck joint like our shoulders (which is why we can swing our arms fast in any direction).

Cretaceous plant fossils: When flowering plants 1st appeared in the Early Cretaceous (in reference to the bottom right fossils), they were small herbs. By the Late Cretaceous, they were the dominant plant group. The Hell Creek formation (which is where our T.rex & Triceratops are from) is a good example of that (See the penultimate paragraph of page 72):

Troodon nest: It's a good way to show that many features we associate w/modern birds (I.e. The most speciose land vertebrates) came from non-bird dinos.
-This Troodon nest from Egg Mountain, MT, was part of a whole colony. Many kinds of birds nest in colonies today. Furthermore, "an adult skeleton of Troödon [was found] on top of" 1 nest ( ), showing that raptor dinos like Troodon sat on their eggs just like birds.
-Illustration w/text (in reference to the Orodromeus stuff in the above link):
-Raptor dinos = Dromaeosaurs like Velociraptor + Troodonts like Troodon. The more robust dromeaosaurs probably hunted like eagles, while the more slender troodonts probably hunted like secretary birds (See the penultimate paragraph):

For more info about the above dinos (Look out for editing errors):
-Prehistoric Beast of the Week:
-The Dino Directory:

For more info relevant to "Fossils Uncovered": I recommend joining the Internet Archive ( ) & reading "Evolving planet : four billion years of life on Earth" (which was published by the Field Museum: ) in conjunction w/other, more recently-updated sources (E.g. The Field Museum website: ).​ I also recommend reading the "Earth Before Us" series ( ).
« Last Edit: April 28, 2021, 09:35:37 AM by HD-man »
I'm also known as JD-man at deviantART: