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By Diana Diamond

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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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Down with the dinosaurs!

Uploaded: Nov 13, 2022
About 15 years ago, my oldest son, Bruce, took his three sons, 3, 5 and 6, to visit the American Museum of Natural History in NYC to see its fantastic dinosaur display.

All were excited, since the collection occupied almost a whole floor, filled with more than 100 types of dinosaur fossils. The kids, followed by their Dad, wandered through, meeting the Tyrannosaurs Rex, Titanosaur, Apatosaurus, Triceratops, Allosaurus -- and the display went on. An hour or so later, they left the museum and my son’s youngest started to cry, while the middle son’s lips quivered.

“What’s wrong?” Bruce asked. “I thought we were going to see the dinosaurs,” the three proclaimed. “We just did,” their surprised father said. “No. We didn’t! We just saw a lot of old bones. But where are the real dinosaurs?” they asked.

Bruce chuckled to himself, thinking, good question!

I use that scene as a segue between what our city fathers are planning for Palo Alto in terms of dinosaurs, and what kids may expect or want.

Palo Alto Museum and Zoo (PAMZ) is on its way to build a “Dinosaur Garden,” adjacent to its site near the Art Center. The proposed exhibit, most consisting of a display of seven dinosaur sculptures and giant fossils, would tower over visitors and kids could look at it, but not interact with it.

The completed Dinosaur Garden, would cost more than $400,000, plus additional $$$ contributions from other groups. Already three dinosaur life-like sculptures, have been ordered for $214,706, and the council is ready to pay for four more sculptures and skeleton displays.

According to a story in the Weekly, “Palo Alto also received $250,000 in matching funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services' Museums of America program and $300,000 from the nonprofit Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo for the creation of a permanent outdoor exhibit known as California Dinosaur Garden, which has a total budget of $980,000.”

I don’t fully understand these numbers or whether the gifts are going to the museum or to the Dinosaur Garden, but there sure is a lot of money involved in this project – so far.

When I was young, I can remember walking through the halls of the American Museum of Natural History, seeing one windowed exhibit after another filled with stuffed lions and tigers and bears and wolves. I complained to my mother that they didn’t move!

Kids, I suggest, would rather see live animals, not fake ones. Granted, we can’t have live dinosaurs in town (actually, anywhere) or scary big brown bears and certainly not a live live-in lion, but the real living animals in the Palo Alto zoo today are few and far between. When I visited it a couple of weeks ago, the birds were gone because they had avian flu; they are recuperating. And when I looked through the lovely landscaped gardens for live animals, I saw five, including one big aging tortoise. The live display is not enough yet to entice kids to come back (at a $10 entrance fee per visit).

Let’s be real about PAMZ. Spending $400K-plus is significant. The council in October put off a final OK on it because of cost, but added if the two city measures, K and L, on the Nov 8 ballot passed, adding more money to the city coffers, they would probably go ahead with it. K and Ly passed.

I don’t think the council should go ahead with the project, given the cool public reaction when the zoo announcement went out. The council should instead re-examine it and build something kids could really get enthused about, such as an interactive park, where if a kid steps on the dinosaur’s foot, it growls back.

We don’t need fake dinosaurs. We don’t need to spend so much money on dinosaur sculptures that please city fathers – but may not please their kids.

Plus, there are significantly more important needs in this city.

(Photo courtesy of the Palo Alto museum and Zoo.)
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Comments

Posted by Riley Calhoun, a resident of Midtown,
on Nov 13, 2022 at 2:06 pm

Riley Calhoun is a registered user.

Part of the problem is that dinosaurs have been cartoonized for children's entertainment.

As a result, they are expecting more than just a bunch of old bones wired together 'to keep things real.'

"The council should instead re-examine it and build something kids could really get enthused about, such as an interactive park,"

^ This is an excellent idea and cost-effective.

Maybe something along the the lines of a Flintstones-themed presentation would be entertaining for the kids as it would also be a paleontological lesson showing how at one time, humans and dinosaurs lived in harmony together.


Posted by DianaDiamond, a resident of Midtown,
on Nov 13, 2022 at 2:40 pm

DianaDiamond is a registered user.

Great idea, Riley!
Diana


Posted by Yabba Dabba Doo, a resident of Downtown North,
on Nov 13, 2022 at 2:59 pm

Yabba Dabba Doo is a registered user.

I grew up watching the Flintstones and even had a metal Flintstones lunchbox while in elementary school.

>"it would also be a paleontological lesson showing how at one time, humans and dinosaurs lived in harmony together."

^ In addition to promoting that ideal, human harmony should also be promoted. I don't remember seeing any prehistoric people of color on The Flintstones but times change.

Since Palo Alto prides itself on cultural acceptance and diversity, would having minority cave people in the presentation detract from the original and intended theme?


Posted by RickMoen, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Nov 13, 2022 at 3:17 pm

RickMoen is a registered user.

Riley Calhoun, I sure hope you are pulling our legs (and providing dry humour) with that bit about "a paleontological lesson showing how at one time, humans and dinosaurs lived in harmony together". If so, well done!

For any who might be unaware, dinosaurs roamed the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous, until 233.23 million years before present. Humans debuted a mere 300,000 years ago -- over a quarter-billion years after the last dino's mournful swansong.

Well, except for those ones outside the house in Hillsborough. ;->


Posted by Neal, a resident of Community Center,
on Nov 13, 2022 at 4:00 pm

Neal is a registered user.

I was astonished that some readers actually thought humans and dinosaurs lived during the same time period. Mind boggling!


Posted by Mike Walsh, a resident of Midtown,
on Nov 13, 2022 at 4:07 pm

Mike Walsh is a registered user.

"Since Palo Alto prides itself on cultural acceptance and diversity, would having minority cave people in the presentation detract from the original and intended theme?"

I don't think it would be a distraction.

The challenging part would be assigning multi-cultural surnames that are consistent with the prehistoric "rock" theme.

At present, I can only think of something along the lines of Charlie Wok (Rock) for a Chinese character and maybe Joaquin Brownstone for a Hispanic castmember.

The problem that could arise is when other ethnicities want to be fully represented and it will require cleverness to come up with catchy names for prehistoric characters of East Indian, Jewish, and African origins.

Just a thought, a prehistoric Japanese character could be named Mr. Rockamoto.


Posted by Judy Pfister, a resident of Los Altos,
on Nov 13, 2022 at 4:23 pm

Judy Pfister is a registered user.

Hopefully it wouldn't send out a bad message to the kids but a prehistoric hippie-Deadhead character named 'Stoner' would be kind of cool.

Some prehistoric Baby Boomers might dig it.


Posted by Rachel Steinman, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Nov 13, 2022 at 5:11 pm

Rachel Steinman is a registered user.

°°...it will require cleverness to come up with catchy names for prehistoric characters of East Indian, Jewish, and African origins.

Speaking as a person of Hebrew descent and an advocate of total inclusion, how about Mr. Bronzeman for the Jewish caveman?


Posted by Jerry Glass, a resident of Mountain View,
on Nov 13, 2022 at 5:28 pm

Jerry Glass is a registered user.

Now I'm curious...will Bam Bam and Pebbles be portrayed as adorable prehistoric infants or incorrigible Stone Age adolescents?

They both grew-up during the Flintstone years and were later portrayed as young children.

Time passes. Ask any dinosaur.


Posted by Seer, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Nov 13, 2022 at 5:52 pm

Seer is a registered user.

I hope we'll have Trans dinosaur representation. Gay dinosaurs are so passé " prehistoric TERFs.

Find me a kid who doesn't like dinosaurs. Thought so! Build it!


Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Nov 13, 2022 at 6:20 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Or you could have dinosaurs that look like Grace Slick and Joan Baez. Would that lead to lawsuits? Are there any lawyers in town?


Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 13, 2022 at 10:20 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

The Flintstone house visible from 280 now has dinosaurs. I don't think the neighbors like them.

Perhaps we could ask the owners to make a dinosaur garden for us in Palo Alto.


Posted by Cassie Jensen, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Nov 14, 2022 at 9:12 am

Cassie Jensen is a registered user.

$400K seems like a lot of money (aka taxpayer money) for the PACC to be frivolously spending on dinosaur sculptures.

Aren't lesser-priced inflatable dinosaurs available or is this approach not considered cost-effective given the potential need for periodic replacements due to punctures and UV deterioration?

While I have not yet been to the new and improved Palo Alto Junior Museum, I recall going there during the late 1960s while in elementary school and it was a small walk-through museum depicting various natural scenes and some stuffed animals.

Since Palo Alto is not known as a paleontological mecca for prehistoric fossils, why bother with this nonsense as the majority of these dinosaurs never roamed the midpeninsula in the first place...think Gobi Desert in Mongolia.

A re-creation of an Ohlone Village might be more appropriate and educational.

Such an endeavor would also provide part-time jobs for starving actors posing as Ohlone/Costanoans or Spanish explorers and priests.

By adding a concession stand selling faux Ohlone abalone jewelry, cardboard conquistador helmets and swords, + some CornNuts in lieu of acorns...instead of always losing and wasting money, the city could actually generate some money on its own accord.


Posted by Myles Florin, a resident of Midtown,
on Nov 14, 2022 at 10:01 am

Myles Florin is a registered user.

> The council should instead re-examine it and build something kids could really get enthused about, such as an interactive park,

^ Good insight Diana.

Now what would be more interactive and cost-effective than Ms. Jensen's somewhat offbeat concept of an Ohlone Indian Village?

Unless they are of a peculiar mindset, I think children can relate better to actual humans than reptilian recreations and besides, fascination with dinosaurs is just a childhood phase that eventually passes.

There is even a place for someone like Leland Stanford in this hypothetical presentation. An actor posing as Stanford could greet visitors at the entrance and simply say, "Welcome to the past, before I got here."


Posted by Ken Martindale, a resident of Ventura,
on Nov 14, 2022 at 11:50 am

Ken Martindale is a registered user.

"I was astonished that some readers actually thought humans and dinosaurs lived during the same time period. Mind boggling!"

^ Their paths intersected via the evolutionary process as dinosaurs and early mammals co-existed prior to the supernova that ended the reign of the dinosaurs. The early mammals were warm-blooded and had fur which ensured their survival.

Early humans and prehistoric mammals like Mastodons, Wooly Mammoths and Saber-Toothed Tigers co-existed at the same time as did various insects who survived the supernova that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Carbon dating is accurate for the most part but there is always the possibility and probability that early man crossed paths with a few surviving dinosaurs who via natural selection and survival of the fittest did not perish along with the others.

This premise justifies the visionary Hanna-Barbara interpretation of the Flintstones being a modern stone age family.

The theory of evolution confirms this potentiality as science provides us with a glimpse of the past.


Posted by Daryl Edwards, a resident of Barron Park,
on Nov 14, 2022 at 1:24 pm

Daryl Edwards is a registered user.

"dinosaurs roamed the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous, until 233.23 million years before present. Humans debuted a mere 300,000 years ago -- over a quarter-billion years after the last dino's mournful swansong.

Since earlier pre/semi-human life forms existed prior to modern man and were most likely illiterate, there are probably no written records or drawings of them interacting with dinosaurs either preserved or in existence today.

A lot of time can pass between 233.23 million years and the past 300,000 leaving much of what actually transpired subject to anthropological speculation.


Posted by Seth Ferrell, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Nov 14, 2022 at 2:15 pm

Seth Ferrell is a registered user.

Earth to people:

The Flintstones were merely an embellishment of what actually transpired during the prehistoric era.

Early man did not have many of the conveniences that the Flintstones enjoyed. Basic survival was paramount and it is highly unlikely that dinosaurs and prehistoric mammals were domesticated to provide creature comforts like lawnmowers and vacuum cleaners because Early Man did not plant lawns or erect conventional houses.

That said and as others have noted, some dinosaurs and prehistoric mammals did exist at the same time and if prehistoric mammals co-existed with Early Man, anything is possible because there is still no written record of humans not interacting with dinosaurs.

This is why the timeframe is referred to as prehistoric.


Posted by Neal, a resident of Community Center,
on Nov 14, 2022 at 4:48 pm

Neal is a registered user.

@Floreance, show me this "much evidence." I really need to cure my ignorance. I don't want to be labeled a dinosaur denier.


Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Downtown North,
on Nov 14, 2022 at 6:50 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Couple related points:
1) in 2005, the City paid a consultant Peter Kageyama to lead a workshop that included giving a resident $500 to make a replica of the Bol Park donkey;
2) Rufus the bobcat a former actual feature at the old Palo Alto Zoo, was stuffed and on display at the Mid Pen Open Space District headquarters, last I looked (don't know if he survived the move)

I'd rather spend the money on music in the parks.


Posted by Mondoman, a resident of Green Acres,
on Nov 15, 2022 at 3:51 am

Mondoman is a registered user.

This would be a great project for our elementary schools - have the kids tell us what they would like to have there.


Posted by Dale Hawkins, a resident of Midtown,
on Nov 15, 2022 at 8:59 am

Dale Hawkins is a registered user.

Since the city has already committed itself to the purchase of three dinosaur sculptures, are they contractually bound to spend the remaining balance on additional ones?

If so, this expenditure is a done deal regardless of any public outcry over fiscal austerity.

$400K is a considerable outlay but maybe the city is rationalizing that the expense for such an undertaking would cost even more later down the road due to rising inflation + the increased costs of labor and materials.

The Flintstones concept is interesting but it would involve the city paying an additional licensing fee for the use of trademarked Flintstone imageries and characters.

Compared to the pressing municipal issues other cities throughout California are currently facing, Palo Alto is cruising along Easy Street given its key priorities and focal points.


Posted by A Failure to Educate, a resident of St. Francis Acres,
on Nov 17, 2022 at 3:26 pm

A Failure to Educate is a registered user.

"But where are the real dinosaurs?"
"I complained to my mother that they didn't move!"
"highly unlikely that dinosaurs and prehistoric mammals were domesticated"
"Since earlier pre/semi-human life forms existed prior to modern man and were most likely illiterate,"
What we have here is a massive failure to educate.
Our post-modern public school system at it's, well, typical.
(I could not bring myself to say "best")
When the last dinosaurs died out the only mammals were small four-legged animals.
The extinction of the dinosaurs allowed mammals to eventually (tens of millions of years later) evolve into what we could call a "primate". Millions more years passed before those primates evolved into the first upright-walking primitive proto-humans.
No humans have ever seen any dinosaurs and hopefully no human ever will.
And OMG, "most likely illiterate"?????
Actual humans, Homo sapiens, only developed about 300k years ago and the earliest hominids may go back to 6 million. It was about 100-150k years ago that the first primitive verbal languages developed and written languages not until less than 10k years ago. So, yeah, pre-humans were all illiterate by definition.
What we have here is a failure to educate!
When I went to the museum of natural history as a kid, I was awed by dinosaur bones laying on a table. I have no words for how I felt at the sight of bones towering over me and articulated by wires into a reasonable guess of what dinosaur skeleton looked like. By first grade I already knew they had died out long before humans existed. What I saw wildly exceeded my expectations.
When I went to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, I already knew the artifacts were created thousands of years ago and the mummy's were dead just as long. I again had no words to describe how I felt. I never expected any of them to sit up in their sarcophagi and talk to me about their lives.
How about we focus on education for a change? That would be radical.


Posted by Michaela Jordan, a resident of University South,
on Nov 18, 2022 at 1:25 pm

Michaela Jordan is a registered user.

The emergence of mankind will always be debated because no one knows for sure whether humans actually evolved from lesser primates or whether they originally appeared on Earth as fully developed homo sapians.

Fossils from the Oldvai Gorge in Africa of Australopithecines only prove that there were creatures whose skeletal remains resembled that of both apes and humans.

As for early humans living among dinosaurs, maybe they went extinct because they were unable to adapt to the conditions that the dinosaurs thrived in and were eaten by carnivorous dinosaurs. This might explain why no skeletal remains of early humans have been found alongside dinosaur fossils.

In lieu of dinosaur sculptures, an accent of man exhibit at the Junior Museum would be very educational.


Posted by Julia Whitcomb, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Nov 19, 2022 at 1:48 pm

Julia Whitcomb is a registered user.

With all of the available land near Shoreline Park, it is unfortunate that Palo Alto and Mountain View cannot team-up on a dinosaur-themed park complete with lush prehistoric vegetation and robotic dinosaurs.

Though anthropologically and paleontologically misleading, adding humans into the prehistoric mix would be very entertaining.


Posted by Benny Morales, a resident of Mountain View,
on Nov 19, 2022 at 2:08 pm

Benny Morales is a registered user.

According CBS News, there are other theories pertaining to the extinction of dinosaurs as some scientists attribute it to prehistoric global warming.
Web Link

Being a former landfill site, Shoreline would be an excellent venue as methane is part of the environment.


Posted by Lorraine Decker, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Nov 19, 2022 at 3:29 pm

Lorraine Decker is a registered user.

It is unfortunate that the early humans were mostly illiterate and could not accurately convey what they had seen or experienced for later historical review.

Imagine being a somewhat visionary prehistoric sub-human and not being able to effectively express one's thoughts about the universe, philosophy, and physics to others. It would be very frustrating.


Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 20, 2022 at 8:30 am

Bystander is a registered user.

There have been many tv shows and movies depicting dinosaurs and humans living at the same time. Apart from the Flintstones, there was one I seem to remember with Raquel Welch in a very becoming animal skin bikini running and hiding from dinosaurs!

We could call it artistic license. Otherwise, we will have to get rid of Startrek too for showing how humans and Vulcans could interbreed and produce Spock! My mother really enjoyed his babycare manuals, to my detriment!


Posted by Dean Mathers, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Nov 20, 2022 at 9:26 am

Dean Mathers is a registered user.

"We could call it artistic license."

To pacify both the 'humans lived among dinosaurs' crowd and the paleontology-minded adherents, how about simply creating a 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' exhibit at the Junior Museum?


Posted by Truth Be Told, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Nov 20, 2022 at 2:50 pm

Truth Be Told is a registered user.

A make-believe world is oftentimes more fun and entertaining than a real or imagined one.

It is immaterial whether humans actually lived with the dinosaurs or vice versa.


Posted by Bryce Young, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Nov 20, 2022 at 4:07 pm

Bryce Young is a registered user.

The City of Palo Alto must be rolling in dough to even consider allocating $400,000.00 towards the purchase of dinosaur sculptures for the Junior Museum.

Cities like Los Altos and Menlo Park are more fiscally responsible with taxpayer money.


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