The Fossil Hall at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, is closing down for a five-year renovation. During that time, its dino inhabitants will be totally dismantled, outfitted for new mounts, then put back together again in brand new poses. How the heck do you take apart a Jurassic-era relic?
Very carefully! When you see a full-sized dinosaur skeleton on display — raised and roped off in all its glory — it’s easy to imagine there was some kind of Ikea-style instruction manual that was unearthed with the remains, showing what went where and how the final form was supposed to look.
There definitely was not! Their positions and postures were based on the knowledge of the paleo-pros who erected them — some back in the early 1900s, others from the 1940s to 1960s — but subsequent new discoveries about the physiology and anatomy have changed the way the current experts feel the dinos should be positioned.
This National Geographic video takes us behind the scenes of the Allosaurus tear down — a massive 9.14m-long monster that weighed 907kg in its hey-dey, with a not-at-all-terrifying 70 to 80 “knife-like” teeth to tear apart its prey.
Strategy-wise, everything is labelled and tracked, and the folks on-site try to go in reverse order from how it was assembled in the first place; this usually means starting with the head, then the tail, then going in for the middle body bits.
Research Casting International will receive the packed-up parts in its Canada HQ and create a new metal armature, which will then be shipped back to the NMNH for reinstallation and a fresh to death, biologically accurate new look. Werk it! [National Geographic]