Mitch Leslie, who writes about cell biology and immunology for Science magazine, admits that before he got the assignment to report our dinosaur story ("The Strange Lives of Polar Dinosaurs" p. 68) he didn't know that the animals once lived in cold climates. "I was just as uninformed as most people about that," he says. He also didn't know that a dinosaur dig could be so, well, low-key. "I somehow imagined there would be people with picks and explosives, and it wasn't like that. The work is laborious, tedious. You sit around pounding on rocks all day and most of the time you don't find anything." At the center of Leslie's report is paleontologist Tom Rich and his Dinosaur Dreaming volunteers—a retired literature professor, a vacationing manager from an auto parts manufacturer, an owner of an environmental cleanup service, among others. What keeps them coming back for more is the hope they're going to find something. And they do. Rich and his troops have found 15 species of polar dinosaurs on Australia's southeastern coast.
Andrew Purvis, who has covered immigration in Europe, among other things, for Time magazine, was interested in seeing a place that was "managing to cope with a large immigrant and specifically Muslim population in a positive way. Marseille has a huge immigrant population, and yet it seems to work. I wanted to find out why." One answer is the individuals and community leaders in and around Marseille who work with young people to prevent the kind of rioting that occurred elsewhere in France in 2005. Another is the intense pride residents take in their hometown, one that they are eager to share with visitors: "In Paris, you are sometimes resented for being an outsider. But I never had that feeling in Marseille." His report, "Marseille's Ethnic Bouillabaisse," begins on page 86.
This year's photo contest is our fifth. Past finalists have ranged in age from 18 to 86, and grand prize winners have included a 60-year-old teacher from Malaysia and an 18-year-old high school senior from Minnesota. This year's contest will close on Thursday, January 3, at 2 p.m. EST. The five category winners will each receive $500, and the grand prize winner will get a four-day, three-night Smithsonian Journeys Grand Canyon Weekend Adventure for two, July 11-14, 2008, or the cash equivalent. All entries must be submitted online. For details and contest rules, please go to photocontest.smithsonianmag.com.