Chapter 11 – A Night in Dinosaur World

No visitor had ever spent the night in Dinosaur World before. For Pete and Wendy, this was a magic time. A time for talking about the day’s adventures, telling stories, and listening to the sounds of the deepening night. The sun had set, a shimmering ball of fire that turned the sky red and orange. Crickets were busily tuning up for their evening performance. Frogs croaked, birds fluttered in the trees, and larger, stranger animals, veiled by the darkness, growled and pushed their way through the underbrush.

Tales over the campfire

The moon rose like a silver ornament over the jagged cliffs, silhouetting a large pteranodon winging its way toward its cliff-top nest. Eerie shadows moved through the forest. Dark trees swayed in the soft breeze. Midnight shapes stirred, blurred insubstantial things that could have been vines – or tails. Was the firelight reflecting off luminous eyes? Or was that just a tired child’s imagination?

“Wendy, did you know it was a little girl about your age who discovered one of the first dinosaurs?” Jake asked.

Wendy covered a yawn and asked, “Really? A little girl? Who was she?”

“Her name was Mary Anning. And she found the complete fossil of an ichthyosaur – like a prehistoric dolphin – imbedded in the side of a cliff near her home in southern England.”

“Technically, ichthyosaurs aren’t dinosaurs,” Pete said drowsily, as he climbed into his sleeping bag.

Pteranodon over the moon

“You’re right, Pete. But her discovery led some scientists to investigate other strange bones and fossils, such as the dinosaur bone Reverend Robert Plot described back in 1677. He said it was the bone of a giant human.” Pete chuckled at this.

Then, as the moon made its way through the constellations, shining like a distant beacon on the primeval forest, Jake told them other stories. Such as the rivalry between paleontologists Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope.

“Back in the 1800’s they each sent teams out West, into Colorado and Wyoming, to find dinosaur fossils. There was a dinosaur fever in the country. People just couldn’t get enough. Anyway, Marsh and Cope were so jealous that they hid their discoveries from each other…”

At about this point in his story, the kids dropped off to sleep. Pete had a smile on his face, dreaming about famous scientists and huge dinosaur bones never seen before. Wendy dreamed of a little girl making the fossil discovery of the century and then going on to become a world-famous paleontologist. In her dream the little girl look just like Wendy.

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