Dr. Jorge Calvo (April 27, 1961 - January 10, 2023)
(Image from Proyecto Dino FB page)
I met Jorge in the mid-90s at an SVP meeting where we had an amicably animated conversation about sauropod caudal vertebral characteristics. It ended with, "Come to Argentina and take a look!" And I did.
I spent a month in Argentina in 1998, and a memorable chunk of that time was with Jorge in Neuquén, Argentina. He introduced me to Quilmes beer, maté, chimichurri, and the wonderful cuts of Argentine steak. I hung out with his wife and son and we rode around town in a cool Citroen with a neat raising and lowering suspension. We prospected for dinosaurs in Cretaceous rocks. What a bounty of riches with bone everywhere!
I spent every moment possible in the collections. The museum was small in comparison to the museums I had been working in. Small, yet mighty! For within were sauropods most wondrous. Rebbachisaurus tessonei (renamed Limaysaurus now, my notes have Rebbachisaurus boldly scrawled across them), Andesaurus delgadoi, a sauropod that to this day makes me puzzled and smile.
Andesaurus was cleverly "curated on display," the bones laid out in dirt on the floor, behind ropes. It looked like a dinosaur dig, and I certainly felt similar elations as I studied each of its hallowed caudal vertebrae.
The collection had non-dinosaur components with many fossil mammals, but what I remember most was a section of genetic anomalies, a two-headed cat and multi-legged calf, both preserved in jars, sticks with me to this day.
We chatted deep into each night about sauropods. What characters were homologous and how do we take the impact of variation into account while scoring characters? He spoke eloquently of the unending dinosaurs in his future and how Argentina was the "next big thing" on the paleontology scene.
Speaking of "big things," when I told Jorge I was going to look at Giganotosaurus he chuckled and said, "I've got something to show you when you return." Upon my return Jorge sits me down in his lab and says, "You saw it? You heard how big it is? Mine's bigger!", puts his hand up for me to wait, and leaves the room. He returns holding a gigantic dentary in a most, ahem, amusing fashion and places it with great flourish on the table in front of me. Sure enough, it *was* bigger (and ended up being the star of a paper he co-authored with Dr. Rodolfo Coria). Legend!
Argentina has created some of the finest paleontological collections over the last 30 years, surprising the world repeatedly with its incredible diversity and size. Unimagined taxa are seemingly an everyday find in Argentina, and Jorge was one of the titans that drove the science forward.
His indefatigable spirit and strength of will (and muscle!) created Proyecto Dino. From a discovery at the side of a lake to the destination-worthy venue it is today, Jorge's hands built it. But of course he had help, all titans do. I'm sure his willingness to freely share knowledge, as he had done with me, helped immensely with the Proyecto Dino endeavor. Dozens of fossil excavators, preparators, and academics trace a lineage to him. Paleontology was forever altered by Jorge's efforts.
I planned to see Jorge this year as we were working on some cool projects. It will be with a heavy heart when I visit Proyecto Dino, for I know I won't see him. But, through his determination and grit, I will get to see what he built. Jorge you are missed mi amigo!