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Herds’ trails make history and news

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By John Bartlit

The New Mexico state fossil, the Coelophysis (SEE-low-FY-sis), is not your plain everyday dinosaur fossil.
The critter gets no leading roles in movies, though its adventures match any for surprising turns through time.
Coelophysis was an early dinosaur of the late Triassic period, some 210 million years ago. History shows that movie fans are drawn more to the Jurassic period, which came later. Bigger dinosaurs make a louder rumble on the screen.
A brief sketch of Coelophysis shows its features. See an animal half as tall as a man with a tail more than twice that long bounding swiftly across the landscape on two legs. See numbers of them running in a pack or a flock.
The name comes from the Greek “koilos,” meaning “hollow.” Coelophysis had hollow, lightweight bones, as birds do, which made it a fast and agile runner.
Its eyes were large and well suited for hunting prey. Its sharp, jagged teeth are typical of meat-eaters.
Of all the Earth’s beings, humans have the most peculiar mind for sizing up time and change.
One day in 1947, a deposit of fossils came to light by chance in north-central New Mexico.
It happened on what was then, and still is, the Ghost Ranch retreat and education center.


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