On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

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Today, pictures from valued commenter J R in WV.

When we went to see the whales last March, we spent a couple of days in Los Angeles. Probably a mistake, we didn’t have the energy to do much, but we did spend a day at the LA County Museum of Natural History, an old fashioned museum on the edge of one of the university campuses.

I took photos of a number of exhibits, but the best were of just two, the big Dinosaur exhibits, and the comparatively tiny minerals and gems.

We’ll start with a few giants that ruled the world a long time ago… I do not have IDs for these guys, a few seem obviously carnivores, some do not.


A note for photographers: When I took my camera, a Panasonic Lumix DMZ-FZ 1000 super zoom, out of the camera bag, the lens cap was hard to remove, and under it the UV haze filter was shattered. One of our pieces of roll-along luggage, with the camera bag on top, had fallen over as we checked in. The camera seems OK, though. But seeing shattered glass when you take out your camera is a horrible moment for a photographer of any sort!

All these photos were taken with that Lumix camera.

Crinoid Sea Lilys

Taken on 2018-03-13

LA Museum of Natural History

These are calcerous filter feeders from a shallow sea bed. They are common everywhere there was once a shallow sea bed, which is almost everywhere. I have collected them in the Kentucky-Ohio-Indiana area known as the Cincinnatean Arch, and have a purchased specimen from Morocco that was prepared by a wonderful German expert. So common lots of places.

f/3.3 for 1/80 sec at 47mm

Big Ol’ Turtle

Taken on 2018-03-13

LA Museum of Natural History

Well prepared ancient turtle, looks as good as he did the day he was buried in silt.

f/3.8 for 1/80 sec at 89mm

Smiling Carnivore

Taken on 2018-03-13

LA County Museum of Natural History

Have I ever mentioned that I love museums?!! Surprise!

A great, well-prepared and will preserved skull from a truly intimidating carnivore. Scarier than Jurassic Park nonsense!

f/2.8 for 1/60 sec at 25mm

Mother and Child Reunion #2

Taken on 2018-03-13

La County Museum

This is an immature carnivore, standing beneath a very mature carnivore indeed, which you only see the legs of, mostly. We don’t know that parents cared for their young, but there is strong evidence that they did.

f/3.2 for 1/80 sec at 42mm

Mother and Child Reunion #3

Taken on 2018-03-13

The same two dinosaurs, but all of both of them. Amazing to see!

f/2.8 1/60sec at 25mm

Trynnosaurus with Steagosaurous

Taken on 2018-03-13

I’m obviously not sure of those species names, there are a lot of splitters in the biology field, where finding a specimen with any little difference becomes a new species as opposed to being a guy with an odd hand shape.

f/3.2 for 1/25th sec at 46mm


Thank you so much J R in WV, do send us more when you can.


Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.


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26 replies
  1. 1
    Amir Khalid says:

    Awesome. It’s amazing that dinosaurs are related to today’s birds.

  2. 2
    opiejeanne says:

    Love the crinoid sea lilies. When you zoom in it looks like an intricate panel of art.
    I love that museum. In HS my best friend got into a docent series on Saturdays and I went along and wandered the museum by myself, or annoyed her by tagging along and listening to the commentary. One time they had a large commercial horizontal refrigerated chest near the front entrance. There was a strange long fish in it, not really on display yet. It was a coelacanth, one we’d read about in the newspapers when it was caught. . That would have been about 1966 or 67.

    They used to have a Duesenberg in the basement for some odd reason.

  3. 3
    opiejeanne says:

    Your last shot reminds me of a scene from the first Jurassic Park, where the T-rex is running alongside something. The jeep? Another animal? Too long ago.

  4. 4

    I have a story, a true story. I guess it’s kind of a travel story, so I’ll just put it in here.

    One day in a small town in Honduras, a stray dog gave birth to some puppies. The town was called Tela, but neither the mother dog nor her puppies knew that. She looked after them until they were old enough to look after themselves, and then she sent them off to make their way in the world.

    One of the dogs settled at the beach. He was tan with dark, dark eyes, and two ears, one of which stuck up while the other hung down, and this gave him a rakish, devil-may-care look, though he didn’t know that. This dog stayed within a few blocks of the beach most of the time. He slept in the cool sand under a row of coconut trees by the boardwalk most of the day. When he was hungry, he went looking around the small hotels and restaurants along the boardwalk. Nobody fed him; he fed himself. Mostly, he ate trash and rotting fish heads.

    It was, all in all, not a bad life—at least not when it was dry. Sometimes, though, water fell out of the sky. He didn’t like that at all. He had no house to live in with Humans, so he huddled where he could to stay dry, under parked cars or trucks, or alongside buildings, under the eaves. But when the water wasn’t falling out of the sky, his life was all right, if not altogether easy.

    He hung around other dogs and played with them on the beach. These dogs had Humans they went back to at night. They lived in houses. But this dog just lived under the coconut trees.

    The days came and went. Nothing much happened to him that had never happened before, not until one evening when the dog was trotting up the street, and a Human who was sitting on the edge of the sidewalk outside a hotel threw a piece of chicken toward him. The Human had a barbecued chicken that he was eating, and when the dog ate the bit the Human had thrown, the Human threw some more.

    The dog had never feared Humans. They never bothered him; they never gave him much heed at all, and he in turn gave them little heed. They just were. But this Human was tossing him food, so he went up and sat next to him and waited for more. As the Human ate, he gave bites of chicken to the dog and talked to him in a friendly way. Then the Human did something nobody had ever done to the dog before: He scratched the dog’s head. That was something new. That was something the dog liked a great deal.

    The Human seemed to live in the hotel, and for many days afterward, he would feed the dog some chicken or some of whatever else he might have had for dinner in the evening. The dog began to look for the Human, and would follow him around town, as the Human did the things that Humans do. When the Human went into a building, the dog would wait outside until the Human came back out. Then he would follow him wherever he went next. The Human talked to the dog and scratched his head. The dog liked that.

    This went on for a while, until one day, the Human wasn’t there any longer. The dog looked for him all around town, and waited outside the hotel for a few days. But, since the Human seemed to be gone, the dog gave up after a while, and went back to his life under the coconut trees, eating trash and rotting fish heads and hiding under parked cars when the water fell out of the sky.

    The days came and went. Weeks came and went, and then months, though the dog knew nothing of weeks or months. Nothing much happened that had never happened before.

    And then, one day, the dog saw a Human walking along the beach. He knew the gait, even after a year. It was his Human. He ran toward the Human and leapt up to greet him. The Human was as happy to see the dog as the dog was to see him. Once again, the dog followed the Human around town, and waited outside when the Human went into buildings. The Human stayed in the same hotel, and every night the dog slept on the beach.

    The Human talked to the dog a great deal when they were together, and after a while, the dog came to understand that now he had something that he had never had before: He had a name. The Human called him “Athelbert”, which was a funny kind of name, though he didn’t know that. But then, he was a funny kind of dog, though he didn’t know that, either. The name seemed to fit him somehow. Before this, Athelbert, unlike most of the dogs he played with on the beach, had never had a name.

    He liked having a name, though he couldn’t have put into words just why he liked it—since, after all, he couldn’t speak. But having a name somehow bonded him to the Human more deeply than before. The Human was no longer only a Human. He was a Friend. He was no longer just the tan dog on the beach with the funny ears. Now, he was Athelbert. And just as the Human had become his Human and his Friend, so had Athelbert become the Human’s dog, and the Human’s Friend.

    And then, as had happened before, one day the Friend was gone. Athelbert roamed the beach and the nearby streets looking for him, but he had no luck. His Friend had left again. And so, as before, he gave up looking after a while and went back to his life under the coconut trees, eating trash and rotting fish heads.

    And again, the days came and went, and the then weeks and months, though he still knew nothing about weeks or months. And again, nothing much ever happened to him that had never happened before.

    And then, once again, one day Athelbert was walking along the beach when he saw a Human with that old gait he knew, his Human, his Friend. He ran to meet his Friend, and they greeted each other like the old friends that they were by now. But this time, there was something new afoot, though Athelbert had no way of knowing this. The Friend had come back to Tela a few weeks after a violent storm had hit the north coast of Honduras. Towns had been flooded, roads washed out, bridges swept away.

    Things had been more or less put to rights by the time his Friend had come back, but he had worried that Athelbert might not have made it through the year alive. So his Friend had made his mind up that if he found Athelbert this time, he was taking him home with him when he left Tela.

    Needless to say, Athelbert knew nothing of this; he only knew his Friend had come back to him. Once again, they settled into their old routine, spending time together whenever the Human was outside, Athelbert sleeping on the beach when his Friend went to bed.

    And then one afternoon, the Friend led Athelbert to a small building not far from the beach, and—and this was something new—took Athelbert inside. A man lifted Athelbert up onto a table and poked him and prodded him. Athelbert couldn’t understand what was going on, but he didn’t mind it much, at least not until the man began sticking him with sharp things. The sharp things hurt, and Athelbert tried to leap from the table, but his Friend and the man with the sharp things held him fast. It hurt, but soon it was over.

    But, rather than letting him leave after they let him hop down, they led him into a room with a heap of clothes and towels on the floor. There was something else, too. The Friend put a bowl on the floor, a bowl filled with tiny little balls. They smelled like they might be good to eat, but they were neither trash nor rotting fish heads, nor even chunks of barbecued chicken, so Athelbert was a bit leery. His Friend picked up a few and held them out before Athelbert’s nose. Athelbert sniffed, and then, hunger and curiosity getting the better of him, ate them. They were indeed like nothing he had ever eaten; all the same, they weren’t too bad. He ate the whole bowlful.

    Then his Friend did something that nobody had ever done to Athelbert. He took him out behind the building, sprayed him with water, and rubbed funny-smelling slippery stuff that frothed and foamed all over his fur. This was no fun at all. He tried to run away, but his Friend held him. After he had rubbed the weird stuff into Athelbert’s hair, his Friend rinsed him off and dried him. The Friend, for his part, was amazed. He had always thought Athelbert was a tan dog, but Athelbert, as it turned out, was a dazzling, shining white with light brown speckles. He looked magnificent, though he, Athelbert, of course, didn’t know that.

    After that, the Friend and the other man left, leaving Athelbert alone in the room. He was alone there all night, and was deeply unhappy about it. He barked and howled throughout much of the night. Luckily, few people lived near the building where he spent the night, so few people minded.

    The next morning, Athelbert did something else he had never done before: He went for a ride in a truck. His Friend had come by early that morning and had taken him out to the street. There he lifted Athelbert up into the bed of a pickup truck, and then climbed up in with him. There were three or four other humans Athelbert didn’t know up there with them, and also a big box with little wheels on it. They sped off. Athelbert had lain under many a truck in his life, trying to keep away from the water that sometimes fell out of the sky; but he had never ridden in one, and, if he had ever stopped to think it over, wouldn’t have foreseen that he ever would ride in one. It went fast. By the time they had gone a mile, Athelbert was as far from his home as he had ever been. They soon left the town of Tela far behind. The wind blew by awfully fast, and it scared him a little; but his Friend had his arm around him, so before long, he was less scared and more interested in all the new smells blowing by, and all the new things he was seeing: Cows! Horses! Goats and pigs! Big, loud busses and trucks that blew their horns! (He was none too fond of the loud horns.)

    The truck stopped when it came to a big building, and his Friend lifted Athelbert down. He lifted the box down too, and shoved Athelbert into it, which was a little alarming. Then the Friend wheeled the box into the building with Athelbert riding inside. They stood in a long line for a while, creeping slowly ahead. The Friend reached into the box, scratched Athelbert’s head, and then squirted a tube of sticky stuff into his mouth. The stuff tasted funny, but Athelbert swallowed it. Before long, he began to feel sleepy, and as the line crept along, he fell sound asleep.

    When he awoke, Athelbert was in the hold of an airplane, but he didn’t know that. All it was to him was a dark room. It was loud. It was cold. And his ears hurt. He began to howl, but his Friend didn’t come to help him. Soon he felt the room bump and lurch about; his box slid against one of the walls. He was scared, but there was nothing to do but huddle down and wait for whatever was happening to end.

    After a while, it did end, and some men came and lifted the box out of the room and rolled it into another big building. Between the room and the building Athelbert felt colder than he ever had in his life. He got cold when the water out of the sky and made him wet, but he had never felt anything like this. He was dry, but he was still cold anyway. The air was cold. Everything was cold. He shivered.

    The men left the box in the big building and then went away. Athelbert sat there. There was nothing else he could do. At least it was warm inside the building. And soon, he heard someone talking. It was his Friend! He was so happy, he tried to scratch his way through the walls of the box. He didn’t need to, though, since his Friend came and opened the box. He put a strap around Athelbert’s neck, a strap with a long string on it, and he led Athelbert out of the building and into the cold again. Soon he put Athelbert into a car, which also was something new, and they drove away.

    After a while, the car stopped, and the Friend led Athelbert into a building. This building smelled like his Friend, and it seemed that he lived there. His Friend fed Athelbert and led him to a sofa. Athelbert hopped up onto the sofa and fell asleep. It had been a long day, and a remarkably weird one. But in a day or two, Athelbert knew that this was where he lived, too, now. He had something else now that he had never had before: a home. He had a Friend of his own, a name and a home. He was happy.

    He lived there still a long time. He ate twice a day, and his Friend understood when Athelbert needed his head scratched. He slept on his own sofa, and had clean water to drink. And he stayed inside, dry now, when the water fell out of the sky. Unlike Tela, it wasn’t always hot outside. But when it was cold outside, he curled up on his sofa and didn’t worry about the cold. His Friend was always with him now. He was no longer just a dog with no name and no home and no Friend of his own, a dog who ate trash and rotting fish heads, who slept under the coconut trees and huddled under trucks when water fell out of the sky. Now he was Athelbert. And he was happy.

    This tale has both a happy and a sad ending. Athelbert lived with his Friend for a long time. After many years, though, he was much older, and he began to get weaker. One day, he couldn’t get up. He felt bad. He knew it was time to leave his Friend. It was time to say goodbye. A good Friend can tell when a dog like Athelbert needs to say goodbye, and though it’s one of the hardest things anybody will ever do, a good Friend helps his dog leave. His Friend was with Athelbert when he left, scratching his head to the end. His Friend was crying, but Athelbert gave his Friend one last look, and with that last look, seemed to tell his Friend not to worry. They would see each other again. Someday. His Friend understood, but he cried all the same. They said goodbye, and Athelbert left. And they will see each other again someday. Until then, Athelbert is still happy, wherever he is. And that’s what matters the most.


    There are many dogs like Athelbert in the world, more than we can count. You don’t have to go all the way to Honduras to find a dog who needs a Friend, though you can if you want to. They all need Friends. What I want to see more than anything is a day when no dog has to live on trash or rotting fish heads, when no dog needs to huddle under trucks when the water falls out of the sky. What I want to see most of all is a world where every dog has a Friend. Go to a shelter. Find a dog huddled under a truck. Find a dog without a Friend. Make a friend. And become a Friend.

  5. 5
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.):

    Great story. Thanks. And condolences on the (temporary) loss of your friend.

  6. 6

    The Nat History Museum also has a section called “Becoming LA” where they have the surviving portion of a model of LA from the late 1930’s that was built by the WPA.

  7. 7

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.):
    Well, arent I in a mood today. Your sweet story made me all weepy. 💞

  8. 8
    JPL says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.): Thank you for sharing this story, and now off to get a tissue.

  9. 9
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Crinoid stems are as common as oak leaves around here. Walk down most any dry creek bed and you will easily find hundreds of pieces of them. The heads on the other hand… I’ve only seen one and that was way deep in a cave. Truth is the heads are everywhere too, but they are all too broken up to be recognizable as such.

  10. 10
    debbie says:

    Thanks. Your photos remind me how much I liked walking through the Natural History Museum in NYC. Those dinosaurs must have been magnificent beasts to behold, providing they weren’t coming after you.

  11. 11

    Thank you for the kind words. I kind of think this might make a good children’s book, only I don’t have the first damned clue about how to go about making that happen.

  12. 12
    rikyrah says:

    Love the pictures 😄

  13. 13
    Viva BrisVegas says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Birds are not just related to dinosaurs, they are dinosaurs.

    Theropod dinosaurs to be more precise.

    T-Rex: tastes just like chicken.

  14. 14
    Citizen_X says:

    Crinoids! Yay!

    That’s a beautiful specimen.

  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17
    Amir Khalid says:

    Nice and quiet, thanks.

  18. 18
    David Evans says:

    Great pictures. I think the smaller dinosaur in your last picture is more likely a Triceratops or near relative than a Stegosaurus.
    I haven’t used a UV filter for years. Do you find it makes a worthwhile difference?

  19. 19
    MomSense says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.):

    Tears. Thank you for that beautiful story. I’m very sorry about Athelbert

  20. 20
    Quinerly says:


  21. 21
    MoxieM says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.): great idea–great story. don’t we have some writers around here? Maybe somebody does kid’s stories–or, working with an illustrator might help with process.

  22. 22
    J R in WV says:

    @David Evans:

    “I haven’t used a UV filter for years. Do you find it makes a worthwhile difference?”

    Well, worst case, the filter smashed to thousands of smithereens, but the lens is OK. I also find that a flat filter is easier to clean than a rounded lens. It does cut through some light haze sometimes, but it’s cheap insurance for the front of the lens all the time.

    ETA: remove confusion!

    Glad you all liked it. I love museums, even little ones in small towns and at parks. And I warned you that I didn’t know the official names of the characters in the show.

  23. 23
    J R in WV says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.):

    Wonderful story, Smedley!

    Athelbert is a great old-fashioned name, but I would feel silly shouting it into the dark night waiting for my dog to come in for bedtime. Good friend had a great dog he named Stella, so that shouting for her would be lines from Cat on a Not Tin Roof… IIRC which Tennessee Williams play it was. I’m not good with names of titles, made English classes tough.

  24. 24
    satby says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.): Beautiful! And condolences to Athelbert’s very good friend, who gave him a wonderful life.

  25. 25
    satby says:

    @J R in WV: great pictures! And my photography teachers always advised us to use a UV or other filter as lens protection too.

  26. 26
    satby says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.): email Tamara, she does the author chats. She can direct you, but if I recall we have several authors in our midst who write children’s stories.

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