I went out for lunch yesterday and came back with a large skull that tested the (thus far) good-natured tolerance of my new coworkers. It’s a sculpted replica from a Phorusrhacos, a five-foot-tall mid-Miocene flightless raptor (skkyechan, are they technically raptors?) from Patagonia. When I saw it in the window I thought it might have been from an argentavis and initially had this falsely confirmed, but all that really mattered was that it’s a giant carnivorous bird skull and I had to have it.
It came from The Bone Room, which is dangerously close to my new office and therefore at high risk of taking all of my moneys. The shopkeeper said she could get me a confuciusornis by special order. And they have tons of bugs. And a bumper sticker reading “Australopithecus ends in ‘US’!”
Flighted ancestor or not, it’s probably the closest I’m going to get to a gryphon anatomical reference without commissioning something unnatural. There don’t seem to be commonly available casts of argentavis parts, but if there were, they’d probably look more vulture-like than I’d like anyway. (But they’d be damn cool.)
The store likely exists because of our proximity to Berkeley’s Museum of Paleontology and associated research departments, so the fact that I was asked “what do you study?” was perfectly reasonable. But apparently I had the wrong answer, because I was asked twice by the same person in the course of my information gathering on how accurate this stuff was and, uh, whether I could get a confuciusornis. And this after I’d explained that I work up the street at a game design company. I even said “video game design”, which probably still didn’t compute. Yes, sorry, I am a non-scholar, a dirty impostor, in your shop and asking entirely nerdy questions about your bones. But she did sell me the skull anyway. And then asked what I studied again.
The appropriate response, which (in my exuberance over the phorusrhacos) I missed, was: I’m a game designer. I study everything.