It looks like renowned paleontologist Jack Horner has gone all Doug Hutchison and married a teenager. His nineteen-year-old wife Vanessa Shiann Weaver was an intern in his lab, and calls herself his "protege." Their age difference: 46 years.
Horner is probably the country's most famous dinosaur expert (unless you count Ross on Friends). He served as a consultant on the Jurassic Park movies and now advises the show Terra Nova. He gave this cool TED talk on how to make a "Chickenosaurus." And on January 15, at the Bellagio in Vegas, he married a woman young enough to be his granddaughter.
According to the awesomely-named Bozeman Magpie, Weaver was Horner's intern at the Museum of the Rockies, where he's curator of paleontology. She's also apparently a student at Montana State University, where Horner teaches, but it's not clear whether she was ever his student. However, she does describe herself on Twitter as "Referred to by Dr. Jack Horner as his 'protege.'" The passive voice makes this bio line a little creepy — that may be what he calls her, but what does she call herself?
Beyond that, though, there's a difference between Weaver's Twitter and that of fellow May-December bride Courtney Stodden — Weaver's is actually pretty cool. She talks about processing a Triceratops ("trike") tibia. She writes, "Are you aware that there is a Leonard Nimoy signed graphic novel in my bag? I about choked on air when I saw it." She says she's going to be in Jurassic Park 4. Basically, she sounds like a huge nerd, which means that a) she and Horner obviously share interests and b) she's a lot more appealing than a certain siren who tweets about sunning herself sensuously all the goddamn time.
Of course, her Twitter handle is Dinogirl2010 — which might be the year she graduated from high school (that year, Jack Horner would've been 63). And her Twitter account is almost totally devoted to comments about him — her very first tweet is "Paleontologist, Dr. Jack Horner (JP advisor), likes this poster and I'm going to get it for him." Weaver seems to idolize Horner. Frankly, lots of people do — he's a dinosaur expert. But in a marriage, that could lead to some difficult power dynamics — especially when one spouse has 46 years on the other.
That said, the people who know best about their marriage are Horner and Weaver themselves.
Neither has responded yet to my request for comment, but Weaver does say this on her Facebook page:
It is true, I am married. What people don't know is the reason I got married. I love him and he is my best friend. Judge all you want about the age difference. It wont matter. He is not my advisor, teacher, employer, and has no say in my grades at MSU. Aside from all of that, I've taken the semester off to do my research and let things simmer down. There is no reason to 'lose respect' for him. He is still the great paleontologist he has always been. If you want to know why I married him, send me a messege and I'll reply in private. If you could all just be happy for us instead of judging with your negativity, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
Good luck, you crazy kid — and old guy.
Update: Horner has responded thus to my questions about his marriage:
I have no idea what you mean by the "May-December nature" of the relationship.
Vanessa's grandparents attended the wedding and her grandfather gave her away. I don't really keep tabs on my family other than my son who supports the decisions of his father.
Vanessa is not, and was not my student, and she did not work for me or the museum as an intern. She is a volunteer at the museum.
Vanessa Horner (nee Weaver) has responded in the comments, and also has now emailed me. She writes:
I have people starting rumors that I'm pregnant. I can't have children so that's not true. People wanted to know about Jurassic Park 4. All I want to be is an extra in the background. Also the franchise is for 5 movies. I appreciate all of the nice comments and continue to ignore the bad ones. I've been told that the negative people must be bored or sad. Otherwise, why would they try to spread rumors and sadness? Thing is, I don't care if they don't think I know what I'm doing. In fact, I don't care what the negative people have to say at all because nobody should have to defend their marriage. So what if I'm a nut? Every great oak was once just a nut that stood its ground.
Famous Paleontologist Jack Horner Marries 19-year-old MSU Student [Bozeman Magpie]