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Raptorex Kriegsteini - Poem by gershon hepner

A dinosaur that’s tiny
when compared to T. Rex has been named
Raptorex Kriegsteini,
by palaeontologists who have acclaimed
the parents of a Holo-
caust survivor who had bought the fossil.
From small beginnings follow
dread consequences that may be colossal.

Inspired by the story of the discovery in Inner Mongolia of a fossil that is thought to have been the ancestor of T. Rex, and has been named Raptorex Kriegsteini, after the man who bought the fossil and donated it to palaeontologists. William Mullen of the Chicago Tribune writes on September 18,2009

As he studied photos of a Chinese fossil sent to him by a private collector, University of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno felt his skepticism giving way to excitement at seeing what could be a miniature relative of the most famous of dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus rex.
The collector wanted Sereno to do the first scientific identification of the fossil, but Sereno balked unless the fossil was donated to science. The collector agreed, but with his own requirement - that it be named after his parents, both Holocaust survivors. That agreement three years ago ultimately opened the door to the discovery of Raptorex kriegsteini, a 'punk-size' precursor to T. rex introduced Thursday by Sereno and five colleagues in an article in the online edition of the research journal Science.

Raptorex was a big surprise to scientists. The 125 million-year-old dinosaur was a 9-foot-long,150-pound look-alike of its great indirect descendant, which was 43 feet long, weighed 13,000 pounds and roamed the Earth 60 million years later. Sereno calls Raptorex a 'blueprint for a predator, ' sporting a huge head, powerful jaws, outsize olfactory organs for acute sense of smell, tiny forelimbs and horselike rear legs to swiftly run down prey.'We have now leapfrogged in our understanding of how Tyrannosaurus rex and its tyrannosaurid relatives came to be on the strength of one specimen that was almost lost to science, ' he said. The specimen was illegally dug out of a fossil field in northeast China in the last decade and sold into an illegal international black market for fossils, Sereno said.

Seven years ago, Henry Kriegstein, a Massachusetts eye surgeon with an abiding love of dinosaurs, attended an Arizona fossil show where a dealer showed him photos of the fossil, still in the block of rock as it was when pulled out of the ground. It was for sale - legally, according to U.S. laws - and Kriegstein said he bought it for 'tens of thousands of dollars but well below $100,000.' Three years ago, after he began learning that it was possibly an extraordinarily important fossil, he decided to ask the widely respected Sereno to write the first scientific description of it, introducing it to the scientific record. That's when Sereno asked Kriegstein to 'give it up to science.' 'Henry said yes, but he said he wanted it named after his father and mother, ' Sereno said. 'They were Polish Jews who survived the death camps in Would War II and still live in New York today. He said he wanted to name the dinosaur after them as a way of giving them immortality after their terrible struggle to survive in World War II.' The deal was done, with the agreement that Sereno will return the fossil to China when he is done with it.

9/18/09


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