Malta, Montana, is a small town on the High Line--the string of sparsely populated communities that stretch parallel to the Canadian border from North Dakota to the outskirts of Glacier National Park. It's a four-hour drive from the nearest airport, in Billings, and the route winds through the beautiful, rugged "Little Rockies." When Jerry Adler arrived in Malta to visit the research station where Nate Murphy hunts for dinosaur remains, it was such big news that the local weekly ran an interview with our man on the front page. But the high point of the visit came when Jerry and his wife and son Max visited the Lazy H-J ranch, where the remains of the dinosaur Murphy calls Leonardo were found. Poking around, Max found a few of the bone fragments experts call "chunkosaurus." Back at the field station, one of Nate's volunteers showed Max how to clean the remains with dental tools and an airbrush like a full-fledged paleontologist.
But Jerry had gone in search of more than mementos. As he and Mary Carmichael report in this week's cover story, Murphy is one of the scientists on the forefront of an exciting new era in dinosaur study. Moving well beyond the familiar, hulking images from children's books and movies like "Jurassic Park," they have found that dinosaurs were remarkably diverse: many were feathered and birdlike; the long-necked apatosaurus (or brontosaurus) actually held its head low to the ground, not in the treetops as artists have imagined. New forensic technology also makes it possible to study not just fossils and bones but the tissue of dinosaur finds, shedding fresh light on how the creatures gave birth, lived and died. Among the dino skeletons in line for a CT scan: Leonardo, whose picture we publish for the first time on page 46.
As U.S. public support for keeping troops in Iraq continues slowly to drain away, Scott Johnson and Melinda Liu report on an alarming new intelligence gap hampering the reconstruction effort: the inability of our soldiers to identify insurgents who have infiltrated the ranks of Iraqi security forces. Now that the Michael Jackson trial is (blessedly) over, Jonathan Darman examines the multimillion-dollar question facing CNN: can a return to the high road pay off in the age of TV pundit wars and tabloid fodder? Charles Gasparino retraces the rise and ugly fall of Morgan Stanley's Phil Purcell. And Sean Smith sits down with Steven Spielberg to talk about his new movie, "War of the Worlds," and what's up with its star, Tom Cruise.