I had visited Australia 12 times before this year, and every time this continent/country has proved more than worth the visit. Of course not all these trips were under favourable circumstances, the 1996 Broome incident coming to mind in particular. Fortunately the majority had been for purely scientific and academic reasons, and the specimens and findings that have been coming to light are truly exciting for science.
However considering all that I have seen and had happen in these 12 previous trips, even if they were combined, they pale compared to this my 13th visit "down under". This was just supposed to be a minor and care free week long visit. There were no incidents or cases for me to get involved in when I arrived, and fortunately there still aren't any technically thank the sediment, yet the past 6 days have felt as though all hell has broken loose around me. I haven't had so much to deal with since the last time Spectre and my paths last crossed.
The most unpredictable thing of all, has been the sudden re-appearance of TMP-2003. 44. 7 [a Royal Tyrrell Museum catalogue number] here in Melbourne. "Traumador" as 2003. 44. 7 has come to be called, disappeared nearly 2 years ago from Canada, and I'd been unable to track him down. I'd assumed the worst, and that he had ended up in a private collection or similar such fate. Instead the truth has proven more bizarre than anything I've ever encountered before.
Traumador not only managed to smuggle himself into New Zealand in 2006, which now explains Larry Tyrannosaurus' presence in the country last year, but 2003. 44. 7 has managed to become highly involved in its museum infrastructure as well. Apart from my having tasked vivus-Dinosaurs to work for me, I have never heard of a Dinosaur being given so much responsibility as this one. Which is remarkable that he'd be so trusted from what I remember of this particular specimen.
Traumador's supervisor, who is attached loosely with the Otago Museum, approaching me about a work related incident that happened to the small Tyrannosaur this year. She wanted me to ensure that he wasn't harmed by his experience. The results from my examination have thus far been astonishing, and I expect the rest to be no less amazing.
Not only is this the first time a Dinosaur has been exposed to any real amount of Mystic Gradient Energy, but it is showing us a whole new aspect of this radiation's nature. Unlike exposed mammals , Traumador is showing that Dinosaurs (and possibly by extension Archosaurs, but this of course needs to be tested) actually absorb MGR and process it in their biologic system. This is all I'm willing to record at moment in such an insecure database until formal publication of these findings however.
The coincidences just extended for around me from here however. Another former Tyrrell Museum specimen TMP 85. 14. 1 is also here in Melbourne for no connected reason. "Lillian" has become a definite point of concern, due to her current affiliation and employment by the Annex Corporation. I will come to my current plan of action on this problem shortly.
Fortunately I was able to focus time and energy on the primary purpose for my visit in Melbourne.
That of course being my grad student BA 4204 [Melbourne Museum catalogue number], or "Dip" as many of the staff of the museum have come to call her.
After my discussions with her on both her status and progress, I have to say I'm more than pleased with Dip's progress. In fact this is an understatement. I'm very proud of her. Especially considering the limited attention and time I've been able to give her since she started studying with me as the master of her studies.
Indeed my constant state of travel around the globe has made me a poor excuse for a supervisor. That is being too lenient to myself really. My role is to be more than a mere academic authority to Dip. I should be a mentor and guide to her along this difficult road. Yet due to the constant nature of the battle we face I've had to make sacrifices. There is not a day I do not feel them either.
Despite my failures, Dip has been demonstrating incredible self reliance and resilience. With the exception of the extreme supportive nature of the staff here at the museum and from the rest of the Australian scientific community, for which I'm very grateful, poor Dip has been meeting a great deal of resistance and hostility to what she is trying to do. If she did not have me and the initiative to back her, I fear Dip's dream of being the first Dinosaur palaeontologist would remain just that. A dream. Yet she is making it a reality one day at a time.Dip has managed to keep on schedule with her thesis, and I expect her to graduate her PHD as planned late next year. This is impressive considering the many limitations her Dinosaurian anatomy places on her. Writing and typing are very difficult given her lack of proper grasping digits. My schedule has continually delayed the acquisition of specially designed equipment to make this easier for her. Yet she has overcome this with the use of her head and in particular beak.
Also the ceratopsian lack of stereoscopic vision has provided her with interesting challenges with reading as well. I am in the process of having special glasses fashioned for her that may remedy this problem (although it remains to be seen if her visual cortex can actually process a unified field of view. I look forward to the possible realms of research this 'experiment' will provide).
So despite my inability, even while in Australia it seems, to provide her the full magnitude of my attention Dip has still been prevailing.
If only the other new issues of this week were so easy to see to completion.
In particular the Annex Corporation situation has me on edge. I always worry about where vivus-fossils end up in today's increasingly materialistic world. It is bad enough to consider the fate of many standard fossils, but to have the last living remains of the world's past end up in private collections and be kept from the greater scientific community, it puts me greatly at unease.
It is far worse when the company is involved! I've spent the better part of the last two decades fighting off their ever increasing incursions into the realm of palaeontology. All to no avail it seems, or at least feels like sometimes, especially when the crown jewel of Alberta's leading palaeontological institution ends up as a simple prop piece in one of Annex corp.'s travelling shows. This was not a problem back when I began the initiative in the 70's.
Of course there is a whole new range of issues that have arisen since those "simpler days".
My lead saurian Lieutenant ROM 975 [Royal Ontario Museum Catalogue Number], being one of them. Now this is not for a moment to insinuate that "Lance" is not a most capable assistant. In the three years he has been acting as advisor and bodyguard I have had few concerns with his abilities or capability. However his excessive paranoia of theropods is one of those few concerns I do have.
In the course of my briefing Lance about my current plans at dealing with the Annex Corp. situation Lance interrupted me. He proceeded to rant about how he was certain Traumador was a planted spy of the Pack of the Primordial Feather whose purpose was to monitor the greater Dinosaur community.
Now I don't entirely blame Lance for his fears of theropods given what they've done to him over the years. Combine that with the training I've been giving him since he was a hatchling, and you would expect some degree of adversarial distrust. Sadly though Lance has recently given into something of a theropod bogeyman syndrome. Not a single one of them is to be trusted in his mind, and they are all out to destroy him and his fellow herbivorous Dinosaurs.
Again I do not blame him for these fears either. They are, only to an extent mind you, based on a real threat. Yet another new trend of this new millennium are "the Packs". Suddenly there is a drive within the vivus-theropod community to unify into large blocks for purposes that are so far their own. I am not sure whether the purpose of these select groupings is merely for a sense of security in numbers or whether it is for a more organized cause. In either actuality these Packs amount to something very similar to human gangs. They are destructive, corruptive, and in general a large nuisiance. I have enough to worry about that alone what the fossils I'm trying to protect are up to.
At the same time, Traumador is certainly not one of the theropods he should be wasting time or energy worrying about. If anything I am much more concerned with the prospect of having to now extend Traumador a curtain of protection, especially considering how much he has currently put himself out in certain aspects of the museum world.
Sadly I was only able to get Lance to moderate his distrust for the small Tyrannosaur. We did both agree however he is most certainly becoming a definite player in our sphere of influence. Whether this is a long term situation or just a short lived anomaly remains to be seen. I also worry about Traumador's current lack of 'friendly' guidance and supervision. This 'Ms. Rhonwyn' is new to me, and I do not have the time to current waste checking into her back ground. I need to get someone I know and trust already to monitor Traumador. I do have a possible solution in mind for this I shall have to look into activating when I return to Canada next.
Lance also informed me of yet another strange development on this trip that occurred yesterday. Traumador has resumed his attempt to court Lillian. Odd considering his famed failure in the fall of 2006. Even I received word about that while in China of all places! A most curious development indeed. We shall have to wait to see what comes of it. Especially considering the drastic nature of my intended intervention on Lillian's current employment situation.
Which brought Lance to a side project of his own. I brought him along on this trip solely due to his role as my bodyguard. My purpose was supposed to merely be checking in on Dip. Now of course with the huge number of tangent distractions I have allowed myself to be distracted by, Lance has taken this to mean he can himself fall into such a trap too.
Lance voiced interest in approaching Lillian about the taskforce. An interesting suggestion on his part, especially given his aforementioned aversion to theropods. Yet I was forced to disagree with him.
Despite her very public, and I note, current lack of affiliation with the Pack of the Primordial Feather, this did not necessarily denote she was a prime candidate. Not that I don't appreciate his thinking. A theropod would bring a bit more desperately needed diversity to the project, and a Tyrannosaurid would definitely have its uses on the team.
Yet I question Lillian herself. She has not yet figured out who she is as an individual. The past two years of her life have been nothing but a constant attempt at regaining her former star attraction glory. Who is to say that when push came to shove, which it will sadly be coming to very soon, she will not just cave in and finally join the Pack. I personally still see this as a distinct possibility.
Lance did not agree with me, and in his typical stubborn told me that his instinct told him she was good natured at heart. Very high praise considering the source, but Lance has been wrong before where I have not. My decision stands. We will execute my plan for dealing with the Annex Corp. complication and than watch, from a far at first, how Lillian deals with the realities that exist for a vivus-dinosaur such as herself. A cold stance I know, but sadly the only viable one. I can not have the Pack of the Primordial Feather continue to corrode my efforts to the extent that they have been recently.
As for Traumador, the time for watching him from a far came and went undetected as he himself has gone undetected. He has most certainly become a player, even if it is as far as the Pack is concerned. If I can monitor him closely than perhaps through him I can learn more of the Pack of the Primordial Feather. For if there is one thing that is certain about this unpredictable little theropod it is that the Pack of the Primordial Feather will be making a move for or against him. Soon.