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Mistakes in museum mountings.

Mistakes in museum mountings

Many museums display incorrectly mounted skeletons of dinosaurs and mammals, reports Kenneth Carpenter, a paleontologist at the Denver Museum of Natural History.

In one common mistake, preparators often place the ribs perpendicular to the spine instead of angled back toward the pelvic region, which is their position in living animals. Because this problem makes the rib cage look much larger than it should, it has caused researchers to overestimate the weight of certain dinosaurs, Carpenter says.

Many mounts also how the legs too far apart, making the animal appear too slow and ungainly. Fossilized footprints, even for the larger sauropods such as Apatosaurus, demonstrate the animals placed their feet under their bodies. Another problem area is tails, says Carpenter. Almost all tracks of dinosaurs footprints show no signs that the animal dragged its tail, yet many mounts place the tail on the ground instead of sticking out behind the animal.

Carpenter says most mounts displays some mistake. "Even my early work, now that I look back on it, I do so with great embarrassment because I've made the same mistakes," he says. According to Carpenter preparators often try to make the bones fit a preconceived pose, rather than letting the bones themselves determine the most natural pose.
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Title Annotation:paleontology
Author:Monastersky, Richard
Publication:Science News
Date:Nov 18, 1989
Previous Article:Call that bird 'Sir.' (paleontology)
Next Article:Carbonaceous meteorites and asteroids.

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