||University Press of Kansas
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Come with me to the American Museum ofNatural History on New York City's Central Park West. We walk up the broad stairs, dominated by the equestrian statue of Theodore Roosevelt, twenty-sixth president of the United States and a great benefactor of the museum. We enter the great Roosevelt Rotunda, where we are awed by one ofthe most dramatic dinosaur exhibits in the world —the mounted skeletons of a mother Barosaurus protecting her young one from an attacking carnivorous Allosaurus. The great sau-ropod rears up on her hind legs, her head 50 feet off the ground, towering high over the marauding Allosaurus, who appears to be trying to get at the baby. Although these dinosaurs are only bones, it is not difficult to flesh them out in our minds and see this tableau as a representation of what might have taken place when the world was about 150 million years younger than it is now, in the period known as the late Jurassic. There is some controversy about whether Barosaurus could actually rear up on its hind legs — somebody suggested that it would have needed eight auxiliary hearts to pump the blood up that high-—but a certain degree of "paleontological license" was exercised to make the dramatic fossil fill the spacious hall...