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Re: Displaying original fossils (was Re: Sue Photos Online)

The program I work with is forced to use replicas rather than actual fossils
due to the nature of the exhibit home.   We travel through the streets of
New York City in a 37 foot Winnebago which houses our Paleontology of
Dinosaurs exhibit. (craters have nothing on  potholes ) Mounted to the
walls, and dug into the floor are replicas of AMNH fossils, as well as a
troodon nest cast from Museum of the Rockies.  We also have a 1:10 scale
model of a T. rex.

The students who visit the PoD always ask "Are these real?"  They are
disappointed to learn they are not the actual fossils. We have smaller
fossils to show them that are not permanently in the exhibit, but kept in
very well padded drawers on board. (T.rex tooth, Stego tail spike, hadrosaur
phalange)  Feeling the weight of these "smaller items" helps them
 understand that the weight of a 6' Apatosaur femur could not be supported
by  the frame of the vehicle.  Fossils on display in a huge building have no
excuse for lack of support.  And thanks to people like Phil Fraley and crew,
many of the recent mounts here at AMNH, FMNH and beyond still allow for
scientific accessibility to some extent.

   Someone commented earlier that with the sophistication of model/replica
making shouldn't we be able to create replicas that "dupe" the public.
These replicas already exist and are useful.  But as teachers, explainers &
docents  we can only answer the "are they real?" questions honestly.

Jenny Lando (nee Herdman)
Assistant Coordinator
Moveable Museum/Paleontology of Dinosaurs
Education Department
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West @ 79th Street
NYC NY 10024-5192

212 - 769-5189