An advertisement for a trip to Yellowstone National Park

“I need a little petroleum,” I said when glancing down at my fuel gauge and veering off the I-75 exit at Adairsville, Ga., last Saturday.

“Is that what gas is made from?” asked my 12-year-old daughter and sole passenger.

My limited knowledge of the oil business (gleaned from watching every episode of “Dallas” years ago) was not enough to give a very scientific answer. But I said something about how petroleum is refined into the gasoline we use in our cars as well as other products.

“And petroleum comes from dead dinosaurs,” she added — a sign that she had paid attention to a class discussion on fossil fuels and that theocratic nutcases had not harmed the science curriculum used by her school.

Then she asked me if petroleum jelly comes from the same source as well. I could only assume so.

Upon further reflection, she concluded: “So I’m putting dead dinosaurs on my lips.”

Teaching children (and some adults who missed the opportunity earlier) to use logical deduction is so important. But it can lead to some interesting mental pictures as well as to truth.

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