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.

 

Meet a Mount: Tylosaurus at KU Natural History Museum

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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.

Image Sources: 1, 2

thenaturalworld1:

The Dimetrodon Vs. Eryops exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, Colorado, United States. 

thenaturalworld1:

The Dimetrodon Vs. Eryops exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, Colorado, United States. 

Meet a Mount: Carnegie Apatosaurus

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Taxon: Apatosaurus louisae

Specimen Number: CM 11162

Dimensions: 77 feet long

Year Created: 1915

The Apatosaurus on display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History was the very first skeleton excavated from Utah’s Dinosaur National Monument. Recovered by a team led by Earl Douglass in 1909, it remains the most complete Apatosaurus specimen known. Museum director William Holland supervised the mounting of the skeleton in 1915, and placed it in the paleontology hall alongside the Carnegie Museum’s star attraction, the 1907 Diplodocus mount.

The story of the misidentified skull of Apatosaurus is widely known, but often told incorrectly. The first Apatosaurus (then labeled Brontosaurus) mount was built by Adam Hermann at the American Museum of Natural History. Since no skull was available, Hermann used a sculpted one that loosely resembled (but was not directly based on) Camarasaurus. A real Apatosaurus skull (still one of only two known) was discovered near the Carnegie skeleton, but it was not used in the mount because museum staff were reluctant to undermine the AMNH version. Douglass objected, and the mount remained headless for 20 years. Eventually a Camarasaurus-like model skull was quietly added. Finally, John McIntosh re-identified the specimen’s true skull in 1979, and unified it with the rest of the mounted skeleton. AMNH and other museums would eventually use casts of the Carnegie skull on their mounts, as well.

In 2007, Phil Fraley Productions was contracted to disassemble, conserve, and rebuilt the Carnegie Apatosaurus, and this version remains on view today.

Meet a Mount: Big Mike the Tyrannosaurus

Taxon: Tyrannosaurus rex

Specimen Number: MOR 555

Dimensions: 38 feet long, 15 feet high

Year Created: 2001

“Big Mike” is a bronze cast of MOR 555 (a.k.a. Wankel Rex, a.ka. the Nation’s T. rex), the second most complete Tyrannosaurus rex specimen yet found. The 60% complete, partially articulated skeleton was discovered by Montana rancher Kathy Wankel in 1988, on land owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Although the Corps retains ownership of the fossils, MOR 555 was held in the collection of the Museum of the Rockies for 25 years, before being loaned to the Smithsonian Institution in 2013.

Big Mike was constructed by the Toronto-based company Research Casting International (RCI), based on molds of the original fossils. The project was commissioned by the advisory board of the Museum of the Rockies in honor of Michael Malone, the museum’s former director who passed away in 1999. RCI completed the 10,000 pound bronze cast and stainless steel armature in a mere four months, and had it ready for an unveiling at the 2001 Society of Vertebrate Paleontology conference.  

There are many other casts of MOR 555 on display around the world, including at the University of California Museum, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the National Museum of Scotland. The original skeleton will go on display at the Smithsonian in 2019.

amnhnyc:

More than 20,000 species of plants and animals around the world are currently under threat of extinction, and hundreds vanish each year. We don’t always know the exact time of extinction, but for the Pinta Island giant tortoise, the date was June 24, 2012.

On that day, Lonesome George—the Galapagos Island tortoise now on display at the American Museum of Natural History, and the last known member of his species—died of natural causes. With him, his species, Chelonoidis abingdoni, vanished.

Over the last two years, Wildlife Preservations taxidermy experts have worked closely with Museum scientists to preserve Lonesome George as he appeared in life—down to a missing toenail on his left front foot.

Watch a video about the preservation process, and learn much more about Lonesome George

openfigs:

Figure 1. Overview of ankylosaur teeth.
Citation: Mallon JC, Anderson JS (2014) The Functional and Palaeoecological Implications of Tooth Morphology and Wear for the Megaherbivorous Dinosaurs from the Dinosaur Park Formation (Upper Campanian) of Alberta, Canada. PLoS ONE 9(6): e98605. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098605

openfigs:

Figure 1. Overview of ankylosaur teeth.

Citation: Mallon JC, Anderson JS (2014) The Functional and Palaeoecological Implications of Tooth Morphology and Wear for the Megaherbivorous Dinosaurs from the Dinosaur Park Formation (Upper Campanian) of Alberta, Canada. PLoS ONE 9(6): e98605. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098605

veganprimatologist:

Skeletal Anatomy of Birds

Fun fact: Parrots are zygodactyl, whereas ostriches are didactyl (and the only birds to have this type of foot.)

Top image (source)
Bottom image (source)

Reporters: stop asking about my dating life

ehmeegee:

We’ve started placing non-monetary bets on the likelihood that I’m asked about my personal life during publicity interviews.

So far I’ve been correct 100% of the time.

I can’t completely understand the fascination with my dating life; maybe I just really do a stellar job of keeping it…

amnhnyc:


Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island giant tortoise, was unveiled at the Museum this afternoon. He will be on public view for just over 3 months, through January 4, 2015. Museum scientists worked closely with taxidermy experts to preserve Lonesome George as he appeared in life. 
Learn more about Lonesome George. 

This is really interesting. Preserving an animal identified as an individual really changes the meaning of taxidermy.

amnhnyc:

Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island giant tortoise, was unveiled at the Museum this afternoon. He will be on public view for just over 3 months, through January 4, 2015. Museum scientists worked closely with taxidermy experts to preserve Lonesome George as he appeared in life. 

Learn more about Lonesome George

This is really interesting. Preserving an animal identified as an individual really changes the meaning of taxidermy.

crownedrose:

Dreadnoughtus Day: Saturday September 20th.
Everyone’s been asking if we will have Dreadnoughtus on display for the public, and luckily it is coming true this Saturday! If you’re in the Philadelphia area, come visit The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University for a day full of titanosaur epicness. Here is the day’s breakdown:

Auditorium
The Discovery of Dreadnoughtus11 a.m.
Join Drexel University paleontologist Ken Lacovara for a tremendous talk on his discovery ofDreadnoughtus.
Life in the Field2:30 p.m.  
Meet Jason Poole, the Academy’s own dinosaur hall coordinator, artist, and fossil preparator. Poole was part of the team in Argentina that discovered Dreadnoughtus. He leads the team in the Fossil Prep Lab—the experts who prepared fossils of Dreadnoughtus right here at the museum.
At Science Live Ongoing, all day
Actual fossil specimens from Dreadnoughtus, a massive plant-eater will be on display at the museum for one day only at Science Live! Talk to team members who were on the dig in Argentina, as well as the experts who helped prepare the fossil in the Academy of Natural Sciences’ Fossil Prep Lab.
North American Hall
Learn more about sauropods, titanosaurs, and how paleontologists find fossils at a discovery station in North American Hall. Touch specimens, do experiments, and see how long Dreadnoughtus really was! Hint: way longer than the Academy’s T. rex!
Dinosaur Hall
Measuring up to 42 feet in length and weighing in at an estimated 7.5 tons, Tyrannosaurus rex was one of the largest predators to ever walk the Earth. This impressive animal is one of many dinosaurs and other Mesozoic creatures you’ll encounter in Dinosaur Hall. More than 30 species are represented, about half of which are full skeletal mounts, including Avaceratops, Chasmosaurus, Corythosaurus, Deinonychus, Pachycephalosaurus, Tenontosaurus, and Tylosaurus.
Fossil Prep Lab
If you want to see paleontology in action, check out the Academy’s Fossil Prep Lab. You can watch as our staff, volunteers, and other skilled workers prepare fossils for study by scientists from other research institutions.

It’s going to be an awesome day!

crownedrose:

Dreadnoughtus Day: Saturday September 20th.

Everyone’s been asking if we will have Dreadnoughtus on display for the public, and luckily it is coming true this Saturday! If you’re in the Philadelphia area, come visit The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University for a day full of titanosaur epicness. Here is the day’s breakdown:

Auditorium

The Discovery of Dreadnoughtus
11 a.m.

Join Drexel University paleontologist Ken Lacovara for a tremendous talk on his discovery ofDreadnoughtus.

Life in the Field
2:30 p.m.  

Meet Jason Poole, the Academy’s own dinosaur hall coordinator, artist, and fossil preparator. Poole was part of the team in Argentina that discovered Dreadnoughtus. He leads the team in the Fossil Prep Lab—the experts who prepared fossils of Dreadnoughtus right here at the museum.

At Science Live 
Ongoing, all day

Actual fossil specimens from Dreadnoughtus, a massive plant-eater will be on display at the museum for one day only at Science Live! Talk to team members who were on the dig in Argentina, as well as the experts who helped prepare the fossil in the Academy of Natural Sciences’ Fossil Prep Lab.

North American Hall

Learn more about sauropods, titanosaurs, and how paleontologists find fossils at a discovery station in North American Hall. Touch specimens, do experiments, and see how long Dreadnoughtus really was! Hint: way longer than the Academy’s T. rex!

Dinosaur Hall

Measuring up to 42 feet in length and weighing in at an estimated 7.5 tons, Tyrannosaurus rex was one of the largest predators to ever walk the Earth. This impressive animal is one of many dinosaurs and other Mesozoic creatures you’ll encounter in Dinosaur Hall. More than 30 species are represented, about half of which are full skeletal mounts, including Avaceratops, Chasmosaurus, Corythosaurus, Deinonychus, Pachycephalosaurus, Tenontosaurus, and Tylosaurus.

Fossil Prep Lab

If you want to see paleontology in action, check out the Academy’s Fossil Prep Lab. You can watch as our staff, volunteers, and other skilled workers prepare fossils for study by scientists from other research institutions.

It’s going to be an awesome day!