Not a doctor, not a professor, not even a paleontologist; Dean Pruitt is
ultimately to blame for all this never-ending talk about dinosaurs.
Mr. Pruitt is a mathematician. Not that he earns a living at it or anything.
Five seconds either way and he'd be somewhere serenely content weeding his garden.
The story begins with a spilled beer at the Oktoberfest in Kingston, Jamaica (???)
hosted by the German Embassy and the Goethe Foundation.
Mr. Pruitt was the recipient of a Goethe Fellowship at Washington University in 1983.
He was also an Engineering Fellow at Washington University in 1970.
(Which still doesn't explain an Oktoberfest in Jamaica.)
The person spilling the beer was a certain Second Secretary of
the Russian Trade Mission which had just been booted out of Cuba
because Mr. Yeltsin cut off their subsidies for being good little Communists.
To make a short story longer, this fellow and Mr. Pruitt became good friends
what with both having small children and all.
When the Russian diplomat was rotated back to Moscow in 1993,
Mr. Pruitt came to visit them. On the second or third visit in the winter
of 93-94, he took his then four-year-old son.
This son is also in no small way responsible for this glut of dinosaurs on our shores.
You see, Papa thought perhaps number one son might like to see some dinosaurs.
Russia has lots of dinosaurs in its capital because the Soviets centralized everything.
Hence to the dinosaur museum also known as the
Paleontological Institute of the Russian Academy of Science.
If you were an American with an one-year unlimited-entry visa into Russia in 1993,
you were either very rich, very important or very mafia.
The details are murky as to how Mr. Pruitt obtained this visa.
(Actually by this time he was consulting for the Institute of Computing & Fiber Optics.)
Upon entering the lobby of the Paleontological Institute he met a receptionist.
And at that very moment Dr. Yuri Gubin was crossing the lobby.
The receptionist, thinking fast (and without having to revert to English),
dumped the two potentially problematic Americans onto Dr. Gubin.
Dr. Gubin, who is more a polished scientist than a polished conversationalist,
did his best and then suggested these two Americans might like to meet his boss.
Hence next door to Dr. Igor Novikov, the deputy director.
They received the grand tour of the premises from Dr. Novikov.
Back in his office they mused over the difficulties of the current situation.
Once Dr. Novikov got to know Mr. Pruitt, he ventured to ask him whether
he knew of any venues that might want to exhibit their dinosaurs.
Just so happens a friend of Mr. Pruitt's, Bob Cassilly was building a children's museum.
Asked if he would like the dinosaurs, Bob said "Do it!"
The rest is history.
Mr. Pruitt has taken on the responsibilities of producing this exhibit.
Much of his endeavor is on a volunteer basis.
He is also the creator, editor, and co-author of this publication.