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Bright & Brief

July 6, 1989

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Fun with fossils? University of Florida researchers have created a program for amateur archaeologists that residents really dig.

A horse trainer, a postal clerk, a cab driver, a sewage plant operator and a retired chemical engineer are among those helping researchers excavate fossils on a farm about 30 miles west of here.

The program, ″Bones: From Bats to Bear-Dogs,″ may not take them far from home but it sends them 20 million years back in time. So far, they have found three-toed horses, rhinoceroses and other creatures from the Miocene era.

″It’s thrilling to know that you’re digging in soil that is millions of years old and you’re finding part of an animal that lived at that time,″ Gloria Driggers, a second-grade teacher in Orange Springs, said Thursday.

″Indiana Jones is just a movie,″ said Lourdes Chu, a Gainesville cab driver who found the tooth of a three-toed horse and a piece of camel bone after scraping dirt with a dental pick for several hours. ″Actually, it doesn’t turn out to be quite that exciting.″

The 12 adults are students in the class offered for the first time by the Florida Museum of Natural History on the university campus. It is taught by paleontologist Ann Pratt.

The Bear-dog - a giant wolf-like creature with a head resembling a bear - was one of the most spectacular prehistoric animals to be found at the site, Ms. Pratt said.


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - They could be discussing solid rockets or bragging about their brains but this group of hyper-intelligent will be square dancing instead.

They are 100 members of Intertel, an international organization meeting in Indiana for three days beginning Thursday. The 2,000-member group accepts only people whose intelligence quotients test in the top 1 percent.

John Hartman, an Indianapolis real estate agent and chairman of Intertel’s 1989 general assembly, said their bounty of brains shouldn’t intimidate non- members.

″We won’t sit around making equations or inventing computer programs. It’s really, as much as anything, a good social get-together,″ Hartman said of the meeting at the Holiday Inn in which square dancing is high on the agenda.

″We have some bright people, but that doesn’t mean we always have the best common sense. We’re about three degrees off plumb,″ said Hartman.

Intertel members range in age 11 to 80 and must score 99 percent in structured intelligence tests. That compares with 98 percent for Mensa, another international organization of people with high intelligence.

Although one purpose of Intertel is to allow members to meet with their peers, it also is involved in programs for gifted and talented children.

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