Conservation of Marsh’s Dinosaurs
About 100 years ago, a massive collection of dinosaur fossils was begun under the famous paleontologist Othniel C. Marsh. The bones that you see in the Great Hall are only a part of this collection. The rest are stored beneath the Museum, available for research to scientists and students of paleontology from around the world. These fossils include the first described specimens of several of the most famous dinosaur species, such as Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus, Camarasaurus, and Barosaurus.
Over time the glues used to join these bones together had failed, and the bones became disarranged. With a grant from the National Science Foundation to repair, support and conserve this scientific treasure, Assistant Preparator Vicki Fitzgerald and our skilled Lab volunteers spent hundreds of hours cleaning, re-gluing and building supports for hundreds of bones. This project has made it possible for these fossils to last for another 100 years, so that paleontologists of the future may study them too.
This femur of the type specimen of Diplodocus longus had never been glued together, so Assistant Preparator Vicki Fitzgerald, aided by our volunteers and by then graduate student Alan Gishlick, carefully pieced together the fragments to reconstruct the whole bone. This specimen can now be accurately measured and studied.
Dr. John McIntosh, a world-renowned sauropod expert, has worked on the specimens in Peabody’s collection for over 40 years. His assistance was invaluable during our conservation project. Here he is in the Lab, studying some of the bones being conserved.
This scapula (shoulder blade) of Camarasaurus grandis has been glued together and a plaster jacket made for it, so that the bone is supported and available for scientists to study.