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Re: Display of original material

At 09:54 PM 16/12/97 -0600, you wrote:
>>It would be even better to hear that a cast and not the actual fossil is
>>being mounted for display...
>Disagree vehemently. Fossils should be seen; I love good casts and applaud
>the science and craft that goes into making them, but they are a substitute
>for the real thing, ESPECIALLY in public museums, and not a replacement.
However, casts can be posed in more life-like positions, with freedom of
positioning that would be difficult with the heavy, exterior metal
framework of an original fossil display.  Most real fossil mounts have a
large part that IS cast or sculpture, due to incomplete skeletal material
in the specimen or weight saving (I know of several tyrannosaur mounts that
do not include the real skull because it would be too heavy to mount).  An
internal framework is also less intrusive to me (which is an aesthetic
thing for me and therefore personal).

>The knowledge that you are looking at the real thing, the actual mortal
>framework of a creature that died a hundred million years ago, just isn't
>there with a cast. And that knowledge is a big part of creating and
>maintaining interest in dinosaur science.
I agree with some of this.  I like seeing the original material too, but I
would give that up if it meant that it was going to be better utilized in a
study (see below).  Large amounts of people flock to the Royal Tyrrell
Museum every year and it contains mostly casts.  People either don't notice
the difference or don't care.

>The unstated assumption here is that mounted fossils are completely
>inaccessible; that "public display" and "value to research" are in a
>zero-sum game. Will the professional contingent comment? I had that idea
>that there were things you could learn from a mounted specimen that you
>would not see from a box of disarticulated bones . . .
Sometimes the bones are difficult to access.  Some of the older mounts are
difficult to work on due to mounting.  If the bones have had framework
epoxied onto them, it is difficult to get a circumference for example.
Newer mounts are better at this, but the framework can make it difficult to
get a ruler in to measure a bone.  Some of the new mounts are set up so
that the bone can be removed for study.  now you have to convince the
museum that your study is good enough to warrant taking the femur off their
prize display piece.  At least sitting in a cabinet the bones can be picked
up, measured, and turned around with ease.

With a few specimens, it makes it difficult to get at parts of the specimen
if it is mounted.  How about the neural spines on a sauropod?  Or worse,
imagine being the poor begger who wanted to measure cervical 3 of the
Barosaurus mount (yes, I know it is a cast) at the AMNH? ;-)

On the other hand, Edmontosaurus is well represented in collections, so it
would not bother me to see a mount of real material for it.  The same for
other less rare fossils (Protoceratops, Centrosaurus, etc).

Darryl  <dinoguy@interlog.com
Visit my webpage at:
"He who wears glasses looks better than he who drinks
too many"