Building a Dinosaur

By | September 9, 2016

At the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, a Barosaurus mother rears up on her hind legs to drive a predatory Allosaurus away from her calf. These fossils may look real, but, in fact, they are lightweight replicas. Reconstructing dinosaur fossils for display in museums is a complicated but fascinating task requiring many different skills and a lot of careful preparation.

PUTTING TOGETHER A DINOSAUR

putting-together-a-dinosaur

■ Careful planning is essential before the skeleton is constructed. Every bone is labeled and marked on a plan to show where it belongs.

■ Here the ribs of the Barosaurus are joined to part of its backbone. The backbone is supported by a metal frame.

■ The hind legs and pelvis (hip bones) are lowered into position in the museum by a small crane.

■ The skeleton of the attacking Allosaurus is also assembled. It will face Barosaurus in the display.

MAKING A REPLICA OF A DINOSAUR

dinosaur-bones-mold

There are different methods of making a replica of a dinosaur’s fossilized skeleton. One way is to make a mold of each fossilized bone and use these molds to make a cast.

STEP 1
The fossil is first pressed halfway into a clay base, and liquid rubber (shown in blue) is painted over both the fossil and the base. This will set to form a flexible coat.

STEP 2
Once dry, the rubber is covered with fiberglass sheets. The sheets make the rubber mold rigid enough to keep its shape when it is removed.

STEP 3
Once set, the outer mold is removed. Now a second mold is made in the same way of the other side of the fossil.

STEP 4
The two molds are joined and held together.

STEP 5
The complete mold is filled with liquid polyester or some other lightweight material. This will form a cast.

STEP 6
Finally, the mold can be opened gently. If the technicians have been careful, a perfect cast is revealed.

Save

Save

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *