To begin, let me thank the Paleontological Society for this wonderful award. I have enjoyed my share of recognition over the years, but nothing quite matches receiving what amounts to career approval in my chosen field, conferred by my home society. A vignette in Jane Austen's Emma captures my feelings well. Concluding a workmanlike musical entertainment, Emma reaps compliments from her drawing room companions. “She was not much deceived by her own skill,” writes Austen, “but she was not unwilling to have others deceived.”

No one arrives at a moment like this without the help of many people, and I...

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