Much of Bend's rich history centers on its early sawmill days. Fortunately the Brooks-Scanlon company kept meticulously detailed records about its inner workings - much of which is currently on loan at the Deschutes Historical Society.
While it's here, historical society volunteers have been scanning the entire archive to creative a massive digital exhibit. The society got a big boost last week with $2,500 state grant for additional computers, scanning equipment and digital storage capacity. Museum director Kelly Cannon-Miller said she expects it will take about two years to scan the entire collection. In time, the historical society hopes to have the entire archive available online for the public.
"For us, this is priceless," said Cannon-Miller.
Over the years, science has put forward many theoretical explanations for why the dinosaurs died out about 65 million years ago. The one currently in vogue is that a huge meteorite smashed into Earth near the Yucatan Peninsula, kicked up a lot of smoke and dust and produced a long period of global cooling.
But a new book by Oregon State University zoologists suggests the real exterminator of the dinosaurs might have been something much less spectacular:
George and Roberta Poinar are experts in the science of extracting the DNA of long-dead organisms from their remains embedded in amber (fossilized tree sap). (Their ideas were the inspiration for the Jurassic Park movies.) In their latest book - What Bugged the Dinosaurs? Insects, Disease, and Death in the Cretaceous, published this month by Princeton University Press - they suggest that the little creepy critters might have done in the dinosaurs by giving them diseases.
According to the publicity blurb, the Poinars analyzed ancient insects found in Cretaceous-era amber and discovered they contained "disease-producing vertebrate pathogens" that could have infected dinosaurs with malaria, leishmania (a parasitic disease) and other illnesses.
The bugs could have helped the dinosaurs become extinct in another, less direct way, the Poinars also theorize: They pollinated the new species of flowering plants that emerged to take the place of the ferns, cycads and ginkgoes that had been the staples of the dino diet. If the dinosaurs weren't able to to eat, they would've had starvation to worry about as well.
George Poinar concedes a cataclysmic event like a meteor strike could have played a part in the dinosaurs' demise, but he doesn't believe it could tell the whole story because the process took too long.
"Other geologic and catastrophic events certainly played a role," he said. "But by themselves, such events do not explain a process that in reality took a very, very long time, perhaps millions of years. Insects and diseases do provide that explanation."