I'm a museum educator with an eye for paleontology, science history, animals and the occasional bit of pop culture nonsense. My long-winded blog is here.
Taxon: Spinosaurus aegyptiacus
Specimen Number: Based on FSAC-KK 11888
Year Created: 2014
Dimensions: 49 feet long
Are we sick of Spinosaurus yet? As part of the colossal media blowout surrounding the Ibrahim et al. “Spinosaurus reboot”, Research Casting International was commissioned to built a full-sized replica of the reimagined Spinosaurus skeleton (the skull was modeled by Acme design). The mount is the centerpiece of Spinosaurus: Lost Giant of the Cretaceous, which will go on tour after its debut run at the National Geographic Explorer’s Hall.
Much like their recent work on Alamosaurus at the Perot Museum, RCI’s new Spinosaurus is based on a digital composite. The new hindlimbs and pelvic girdle recovered by Ibrahim and colleagues were scanned and combined with scans of Spinosaurus fossils held in private collections, as well as reconstructions of the bones that were destroyed during World War II. Remaining gaps were filled in with bones from Spinosaurus relatives like Suchomimus. The resulting digital composite provides a unified vision of Spinosaurus, even though the material it is based on is stored thousands of miles apart.
Using 3-D printers, RCI produced a life-sized model out of plastic and milled foam. This new technology doesn’t mean that dinosaurs are rolling off assembly lines, however: the skull alone reportedly cost $30,000 to produce.
Taxon: Tylosaurus proriger
Specimen Number: KUVP 5033
Dimensions: 45 feet long
Year Created: 1999
In 1911, C.D. Bunker uncovered in western Kansas one of the largest mosasaur specimens ever found. The fossils remained in storage at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum for nearly a century, until the rediscovery of Bunker’s field notes renewed interest in the historic find. The bones had fallen into disrepair, so the museum hired the private company Triebold Paleontology to restore them. Triebold also provided the museum with a complete replica of the skeleton, which now hangs over the three-story entrance hall. Unfortunately, capturing the entire coiled length of the 45-foot sea lizard seems to have eluded most photographers.
The original Tylosaurus fossils are held in the University of Kansas collections, but Triebold still offers casts in its catalog of replica fossil mounts. Examples can be seen at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park, Colorado.