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Friday
Sep252009

Wildlife of DC: Capitalsaurous

Capitolsaurus Court
We've talked about wild animals that were pushed to the brink of extinction and came back, those that we've imported, and even those that couldn't make it in the world we've created. What do you all say, shall we take a break from how humans have interacted with the natural world and examine a creature who can't possibly blame us for its demise?

Somewhere over a hundred million years ago, in the Early Cretaceous period, a theropod walked a swampy, sweltering wetland in what is now Washington, DC. After managing to die, he was covered with silt and over the next few millenia he, or at least part of one vertebra, was preserved as a fossil. Then, just over a hundred years ago, in January of 1898, workers digging a sewer line in a swampy, sweltering wetland known as Washington, DC discovered said vertebra.

Excitement reigned, and the finder, one J.K. Murphy, donated the specimen to the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History, where, presumably, it rests to this day. Then, a little over a decade or so ago, Washington, DC decided to adopt Capitalsaurus as both it's state fossil, and it's state dinosaur. To cap it all off, we also named the intersection where the bone was found "Capitalsaurus Court". If you'd like, if you need a great place to take a picnic lunch to after your Capitol tour, stroll down 1st ST to the corner of 1st and F ST SE. After pausing at Capitalsaurus Court, continue across the street to Garfield Park, an excellent local park to take a break at if the kids are worn out and need a break.

And if you are wondering, Capitalsaurus would have looked like a somewhat smaller version of it's more famous distant cousin Tyrannosaurus Rex. And it would have totally kicked the ass of, then ate, its contemporary: Maryland's state dinosaur, Astrodon Johnsoni. So take that, Maryland.

Now, we've had a lot of fun with Capitalsaurus here in DC. In fact, we're quite proud of it. So I'll leave it to the kill-joys at the Smithsonian to tell us that this name is "not scientifically justified" and "has no validity". Ridiculous! Next you're going to try and tell me Pluto's not a planet.

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