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U Wyoming's Apatosaurus Getting A Makeover


A prominent member of the University of Wyoming Geological Museum is on a yearlong sabbatical.

The 75-foot-long fossil display of the apatosaurus, a sauropod dinosaur that roamed Wyoming 150 million years ago, has been dismantled except for a one-ton section of its upper hip area. The dinosaur fossil will return with its display updated to reflect the latest paleontological research findings, said Brent Breithaupt, UW Geological Museum director.

"This is our first opportunity to enhance the fossil display since it was established by Samuel H. Knight in 1960," Breithaupt said. "Professor Knight did a wonderful job of putting the apatosaurus together based on the resources and knowledge of the times. We will be able to add some of the dinosaur's bones that Professor Knight didn't have at the time to improve the display's looks, such as posing it with its tail in the air instead of dragging on the ground."

This month, Treibold Paleontology Inc. of Woodland Park, Colo., dismantled the apatosaurus display. Treibold is a professional firm with expertise in casting skeletons and fossil mounting. The company will make a cast of the apatosaurus fossil that will be available for other museums to use for displays, Breithaupt says.

The apatosaurus fossil was about 60 percent bone, with the rest of the display cast from molds created by Knight. Treibold will take those pieces and make them more bonelike in appearance. The company will use a form of resin to create the new casts that will make those sections, such as the tail, lighter and easier to manipulate for display.

"This will be a 21st century dinosaur display when it's unveiled next year," Breithaupt said.
UW's apatosaurus is one of only six such displays in the world.