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A Dinosaur’s Unexpected Appearance

Sometimes your research shows up in the places where you least expect it.

Seniors at Armour High School–my alma mater square in the middle of Armour, South Dakota (population 699)–have a fun and quirky tradition at graduation. When called across the stage, each graduate trades some small object with the school board president in exchange for a diploma. One year it was hard-boiled eggs. The year that I graduated, we traded pirate figurines.

My mom is the current president of the Armour public school board, and consequently at the receiving end of the tradition. This year it was plastic alphabet letters. One for each senior, all 10 members of the graduating class. And what did those letters spell?

Dahalokely spelled out in plastic alphabet letters
Photo courtesy of Joanne Farke.

That’s right…the seniors spelled out “Dahalokely“–the name of the dinosaur from Madagascar that I named a few weeks ago in PLOS ONE. All 10 letters, handed over to the mom of the senior author on the paper.

This epitomizes everything I love about my small town. People are connected in a way that you don’t always see elsewhere, maintaining those connections and memories for years. So, to the AHS class of 2013, I say: Congratulations! Good luck! From what I know of you, you are a cool, creative, and hard-working bunch. No matter where life takes you, be proud of your roots. The lessons I learned in Armour–of community, connection, and work ethic–have served me well. May you take these qualities with you, whatever your destination!

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