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Archive for Tuesday, June 10, 1997

KU PROFESSOR CARVES WAY INTO NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

June 10, 1997

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A Kansas University paleontologist is in the June edition of National Geographic.

Larry Martin is showing up in a lot of homes these days brandishing a dagger and cradling a skull.

The Kansas University paleontologist hasn't gone psychotic. He's gone national, as in National Geographic, whose June edition includes a photo of Martin as part of a story on cats.

"I like it. It's impish," Martin said of the photo, which helps illustrate his theory about the way saber-toothed cats killed their prey.

Martin, a 25-year KU faculty member and administrator, is quoted as saying the animal likely killed its victims by plunging its long teeth through their necks.

In the photo, Martin is shown grinning broadly against a cloudy sky, holding the dagger above his pith-helmeted head.

"We discussed what we could do that would be photogenic," he said. "They mainly wanted a photo of me with the knife. The knife is almost a dead ringer for the saber-toothed cat's saber."

It's not the first time Martin, the curator of vertebrate paleontology at the KU Museum of Natural History, has been featured in national publications. He has appeared in Nature and Time magazines, The Washington Post and The New York Times, to name a few.

"I have probably for the last few decades been sort of recognized as being the leading authority of saber-toothed cats in the world," he said.

Martin said National Geographic caught up with him last summer in Wyoming, where he was being filmed for a program on The Learning Channel.

"They spent three days shooting, probably 600 shots," he said of the magazine's staff.

The story, which portrays cats as "nature's masterwork" and explores cats' relationship with humans, describes Martin as a scientist who "revels in the outrageous."

He's quoted as saying saber-toothed cats could make a comeback in the right circumstances, which include the extinction of people.

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