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Re: Museology



Larry Dunn wrote:
>but an area rich in Triassic dinosaurs
>would have special focus on, say, Coelophysis and the Poposaurs.
        Of course, the local stuff is often fragmentary, and let's face it,
kids don't seem to get quite as excited about going to the museum to see
_Postosuchus kirkpatricki_ as they do for, say... I dunno... _Tyrannosaurus
rex_. And what gets the kids excited gets the museum excited. But, I suppose
the question was, what do we want ideally, so I'll have to second this idea.

>I'd like to see the fossil skeletal elements of the more significant
>species (at least) arranged so that important traits are front [...]
>This would replace the typical life posture
>mounting of the skeleton, which is a little ghoulish and often
>obscures the most important elements of the skeleton.
        I disaggree, a mounted, even heavily reconstructed, skeleton is more
effective than disarticuted bits. Your average museum-goer can't put the
critter back together in his head like paleo nuts can. How about just
pulling the element out of the mount and replacing it with a cast?
        Also, some of my biggest wants from a museum are:
        1) make it clear which elements are reconstructed (AMNH has a nice
way of doing this with paint of a slightly different hue than the bone).
        2) don't *ever* paint bone.
        3) Make it so you can disassemble parts of the mount for study with
a minimum of hassle.
        4) Fer god's sake, try not to gum up important specimens to the
point where they can't be studied anymore. A partially reconstructed skull
is of no use to me if I can't see the articulations and figure out if I
think they were reconstructed incorrectly.

>The American
>museum has magnified plastic type models of these key skeletal
>aspects, but they're set up separate from the actual fossil and sort
>of abstracted in appearance and effect.  Why not point it out on the
>real fossil element?
        Actually, I was just saying to someone the other day how much I
*really* like the abstracted models. Why? Because they are just that,
abstracted. There are no color variations, texture variations, individual
variations, ontogenetic variations etc. to obscure the point. You take a
scientists model of how something works and represent it in 3D, then you let
the museum-goer "be the paleontologist". They get to look at the specimens
and find these features for themselves.
        It also allows you to clearly illustrate concepts which may be
harder to see. It's like the old Rozhdestensky (?!?) text on vertebrate
design, where skeletons were abstracted into mechanical quasi-models, making
it a lot easier to get an intuitive understanding of how the bones fit
together and relate to the form of the body. If I had one of those white
plaster models of how hadrosaur cranial kinesis is supposed to work, I'd be
a much happier me!
        So, while I symapthize with the sentiment, I'd like to see more of
the models. If someone wants to throw in some real examples too, so much the
better!
        :)

        Wagner
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Jonathan R. Wagner, Dept. of Geosciences, TTU, Lubbock, TX 79409-1053
 "Only those whose life is short can truly believe that love is forever"-Lorien