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Martinsville City Council endorsed staff recommendations for the city's legislative agenda, including one on restructuring local governments, during its meeting Tuesday night.
Press Release: Martinsville Bulletin
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The Virginia Museum of Natural History has named retired curator Lauck "Buck" Ward as its first curator emeritus.
Ward served as curator of invertebrate paleontology at the museum for 19 years before he recently retired. He also has been the director of the VMNH paleontological field trips and is a cenozoic mollusk specialist, according to the VMNH Web site.
The museum announced his new appointment Monday.
The curator emeritus positions are non-salaried appointments that recognize the important contributions to the Virginia Museum of Natural History that have been made by curators who have rendered many years of service before retirement, according to the VMNH Web site.
Curator emeritus appointees continue their contributions to VMNH and their academic disciplines through service to the scientific and museum community. Criteria for appointment as curator emeritus include evidence of leadership in or service to the institution, community and professional discipline, along with evidence of involvement in professional organizations and scholarship, the Web site states.
Curator emeritus appointments are awarded by the museum's board of trustees upon the recommendation of the museum's executive director.
Executive Director Tim Gette said he hopes the museum can attract other retired scientists from other museums and universities to continue their work at the Martinsville facility as curator emeriti.
"I am very pleased that Dr. Lauck Ward has accepted this appointment as the first curator emeritus at VMNH and will continue to be an important resource to the museum although retired," Gette said. "It is my hope that Dr. Ward is only the first curator emeritus and that VMNH can attract other retired scientists from other museums and universities to come to Martinsville and continue their research and writing at the Virginia Museum of Natural History."
Ward was appointed as the museum's curator of invertebrate paleontology in 1989, having previously held positions with the U.S. Geological Survey, the Maryland Academy of Science and the Virginia Department of Agriculture. He has a bachelor's degree in biology from Frederick College and a master's degree and doctorate in geology from the University of South Carolina.
Press Release: Martinsville Bulletin
Friday, November 14, 2008
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
A Pteranodon skeleton is wasting no time "diving" into its new home at the Virginia Museum of Natural History.
Workers from Research Casting International of Ontario, Canada, together with VMNH scientists and other staff, installed the cast of the massive creature Thursday.
"This is the only one on exhibit in Virginia," Dr. Alton "Butch" Dooley, paleontologist at the museum, said during the installation process.
The specimen, which has a 20-foot wingspan, arrived at the museum in a Penske moving van. Wires were used to suspend the ancient flying reptile from the 40-foot ceiling of The Harvest Foundation Great Hall of the museum.
It is angled to appear as though it is diving toward visitors standing on a bridge overlooking the lobby and the Great Hall.
The angle "gives it the kind of look it might have had after spotting a fish in the water and then diving down to scoop it up," Dooley said of the fish-eating reptile.
The newest addition joins other specimens on display in the Great Hall, including the Eobalaenoptera, which lived about 14 million years ago, and Allosaurus, a carnivorous dinosaur that dates back 140 million years.
"I'm excited about the Pteranodon. It is the piece I thought was missing," said Tim Gette, executive director of the VMNH. "This gives us air, land and sea" representations.
Visitors walking onto the bridge will be virtually face to face with the skeleton, and youngsters likely will enjoy standing on the bridge to have their pictures taken with the diving Pteranodon in the background, Gette said.
The Pteranodon lived around 89 to 70 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period and was one of the largest types of pterosaur - flying reptiles - with a wingspan of up to 30 feet.
With toothless beaks similar to those of modern birds, the creatures were considered reptiles, but not dinosaurs. However, dinosaurs and pterosaurs may have been closely related, and most paleontologists place them together in the group Ornithodira, or "bird necks," according to a release from VMNH.
The cast on display at the VMNH was constructed from skeletal remains discovered in Kansas, and some species have been found in Nebraska, Dooley said.
In life, the Pteranodon likely lived near coastal regions and possibly nested near the coastline, Dooley said.
Besides a massive, razor-sharp-looking beak, the Pteranodon also had three-fingered claws about halfway up each wing.
The three fingers were functional and likely used for holding onto rocks and trees or when walking, Dooley said.
"They are thought to have walked on all fours," he said, adding that the wings themselves were considered fourth fingers.
Based on jaw structure, the creature also likely had a "throat pouch" similar to that of a pelican, Dooley said. Creatures such as the pelican and albatross probably bear the closest resemblance to the Pteranodon, he added.
When first discovered, the Pteranodon was considered the largest of the pterosaurs, Dooley said. With later discoveries of larger skeletons, it now is considered in the medium category.
Based on the rather small stature of the bones, Dooley estimated the creature weighed "30 pounds or so."
Given the massive wingspan and impressive skeleton, "it's outrageous, but it's not much more heavy than a Thanksgiving turkey," he added.
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