Saturday, September 17, 2011

No. 973


In 1902, the first T. rex was unearthed on a Montana hillside. It took over three years of digging to get the skeleton out of the ground. It was shipped to the New York Museum amid much ado at a time when dinosaur bones were like Egyptian mummies—mysteries that dazzled both the public and scientists. And no one had ever seen anything like this.

The scientists at the New York Museum registered the bones with the number 973. Then they put the pieces together and officially named the huge beast Tyrannosaurus rex, the Tyrant King. It went on display in the American Museum of Natural History in 1906. The crowds lined up for blocks. What no one knew then was that the skeleton was incomplete.

Decades later, a young researcher found the errant bone in a museum cabinet and recognized the identification number. The rib bone was returned to the skeleton of the first T. rex, who is now complete at last.

I’ve recently unearthed a piece of myself that I hadn’t been aware of—my own No. 973, if you will. A friend opened up a “cabinet” for me, and I was surprised to find a missing piece of myself there. It fell into place easily and fit so well; it seems I should have noticed its absence long ago or, at least, toiled to dig it up.

No crowds lined up to see, and there was no publicity. No charged air of anticipation greeted this newly found “piece.” But I feel more "me." Complete? No, but certainly a work in progress. 

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