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Re: Reconstruction...? restoration...?

Roxton wrote:
> I'm sorry for this question that might seem shallow to most of you, but can
> anybody tell me the difference between reconstruction and restoration of
> dinosaurs?

In my mind, reconstruction attempts to portray something as it MIGHT
have been. Restoration attempts to return it to the original condition.
The first involves more guess-work than the latter.

When you reconstruct a building (say the 'Church of Our Lady' in
Dresden), you take as much information about its original design and
attempt to replicate it. You won't get it back to the original
condition, since a lot of info has been lost (in this case, blown to the
proverbial smitherines). This is quite different to restoring a
building, in which case the original state is known with a generally
higher degree of accuracy. When a painting is restored, it should look
exactly as it did before time began to take its toll.

As far as fossils are concerned, I consider restoration as repairing
damaged or lost parts of the skeleton - within limits. By mirroring a
left limb, you can be pretty sure you are restoring a missing right limb
(since barring pathologies they should have been close to identicle).
Reconstruction, however, attempts to take the matter further, and
includes more assumptions which render the final product less accurate
than a 'restoration' would. This includes filling in missing parts of a
skeleton based on close relatives (but different species), adding soft
tissues, and skin textures and colours.

Most dictionaries define 'reconstruct' as 'to build again', while
'restore' is 'to return to original condition'. When dealing with most
palaeoart, 'reconstruct' is probably a better definition.


Dann Pigdon                   Australian Dinosaurs:
GIS / Archaeologist         http://www.geocities.com/dannsdinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia        http://www.alphalink.com.au/~dannj/