The two days before PaleoFest at Burpee Museum of Natural History, the science of dinosaur paleontology was in full swing. With five of the six members of the JANE panel sifting over JANEs bones, some major discoveries were made
One was reported in my last article about the new skull bone never before seen in a tyrannosaurid. The skull bone christened on the 19th makes yet another argument for the case of JANE not being a young Tyrannosaurus rex. Yet a bigger magic moment came a day before the PaleoFest. Months ago, a bone thought to be a backbone chevron was cleaned and lumped together with a piece that looked like a narrow two-pronged fork. These bones were found in the tail section, further suggesting that they were part of the tail. But to bone preparator Deb Moauro, the tail just didnt add up, and the bones were kept in the unknown section of storage.
Just weeks ago, Deb found another section of bone that was in three pieces. When she cleaned them and put them together, she found it fit in between those two unusual tail bones. On Feb. 20, when Robert Bakker and Peter Larson were shown this compilation of bones, a light went on in Larsons head. Larson declared that the bone could be JANEs vomer, a middle bone in the roof of her mouth. All present were celebrating because the vomers shape was very different from the vomers shape in a T. rex. JANEs vomer is very narrow in shape compared with a T. rex vomer. Burpee has a replica of Stan, the T. rexs vomer. JANEs vomer looks like a narrow, long two-pronged fork while Stans is shaped like a complete shovel.
Another panel opinion occurred just before PaleoFest when it was decided that JANEs scapula coracoid, also known as the breastbone, gave better function for JANEs arm. Actually, its the shoulder socket of JANEs breastbone that gave her arm a better range of motion than what is normal for a T. rex. Rex could only move its arms up and down while JANE could move up, down and draw its arm back as if to elbow something. JANEs shoulder socket is markedly ridged, which gives good range of motion, yet continuing coupling security. So put another strong point on JANEs score card for her being a non-T. rex.
Another point of anatomy discussed by the JANE panel just before PaleoFest was that of an airhole in JANEs quadratojugal known as a pneumatapore. The quadratojugal is a bone in the back and lower part of the skull. T. rexes dont exhibit pneumatapores. The Cleveland nanotyrannus skull has a pneumatapore. Tom Carr, the most astute critic of nanotyrannuses being a separate species, believed the pneumatapore was an anomaly in the Cleveland skull. JANEs pneumatapore proves Carr is probably wrong.
JANEs humerus bone was a point of discussion when compared with a T. rex humerus. JANEs humerus was 80 percent as big, yet JANEs body is only half the T. rexs size in length and one-fifth to one-eighth in weight.
Mike Hendersons lecture was the best given on Sunday, the last day of PaleoFest. More than 200 attended his paleotalk on what JANE is. They still dont know for sure, but Henderson said that the evidence has shifted back to JANE as being a non-T. rex. JANE is more primitive than a T. rex in some respects. Some compare her to a gorgosaur, a relative of the tyrannosaur with similar body proportions.
Bakker made the point in his paleotalk that on average, the most abundant teeth found at the site of T. rex skeletons were nanotyrannus. Bakker thinks nanos may have killed T. rexes. Bakker is adamant about JANE being a nano. I asked him whether I should bet my wheelchair that JANEs a nano. Bakker replied, You can bet your wheelchair, three mortgages, and Jimmy the Greek.
Rod Myers is a local resident with an interest in the environment and disability issues. He has an associates degree in science and a bachelors in fine arts. Rod is a member of the Audubon Society, the Wild Ones Natural Landscapers and Rockford Amateur Astronomers, Inc.