Monday, April 27, 2009

Got fossils?

Long before there was a United States of America, or before Europeans ever suspected there was anything on this side of the Atlantic, this area teemed with life.

The history of the area 10,000 years ago is written in the fossils of animals found in, among other places, Creekwood in East Manatee.

In a story published in the Herald April 24, Liz Sullivan called our attention to ancient bone fragments that residents had found in a lake there.

Subsequently, Liz said she has had a conversation with with Jeff Rodgers of the South Florida Museum in Bradenton and learned that a fragment suspected of being a tusk was actually rib bone from a Dugong, which is similar to a manatee.

The other pieces could belong to a horse or other creature, but it will be difficult to tell without more scientific study.

Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee Natural Resources Department, said while the area was never home to dinosaurs, it did have mastodons, sabre-tooth cat, and giant ground sloths among others.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Tuberculosis watch

It was big news last week when it was reported that students at Lakewood Ranch High School and Nolan Middle School may have been exposed to someone diagnosed with tuberculosis.

School and health department officials went into overdrive to get the word out to students, faculty and parents. The key points were that the disease is treatable and that the person who was diagnosed can no longer spread it.

Today, testing is underway for those who may have been exposed. Nancy High, principal at Nolan Middle School, says students have been matter of fact about the process and results will be read on Monday.

Public officials and the Herald did their job in getting the word out without sensationalizing it. There's been no panic. And a forum at Lakewood Ranch High School on Monday night attracted fewer than 10 parents. Good job all the way 'round.