Thursday, September 22, 2005

Paleo: New dinosaur found in New Haven

A dinosaur not seen in 66 million years turned up on Whitney Avenue in New Haven today. Workers took advantage of the beautiful fall weather to install a newly created bronze sculpture of Torosaurus Iatus in front of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Torosaurus was a ceratopsian, a group of horned and frilled dinosaurs that included Triceratops, and lived in the Late Cretaceous, practically at the end of the Age of Dinosaurs.

Built with a beak like a pruning shear, powerfully muscled jaws, and shearing teeth (like giant scissors), Torosaurus incorporated design improvements made to plant eating dinosaurs over 160 million years. By comparison, plant eating dinosaurs known from Connecticut Valley fossil bones, such as Anchisaurus, or footprints such as Anomoepus, were far more primitive. Connecticut's dinosaurs were early models, from much earlier in the Age of Dinosaurs than Torosaurus.

The Torosaurus sculpture was created by Peabody Museum Preparator Michael Anderson who examined Torosaurus bones from the Peabody collections, consulted with experts at the Peabody and Smithsonian, as well as other institutions, and used computer animation to complete the project. Anderson produced models and a wax prototype that were used to cast the final sculpture in bronze. It is 9 feet tall and 21 feet long and took nearly five years to complete. It was made possible through the generosity of Elizabeth R. and Stanford N. Phelps and their grandchildren Max, Garrett and Ford.

Artist Michael Anderson (yellow shirt) watches as the dinosaur he created is lowered onto a specially built granite foundation. Photos by Yale Peabody Museum herpetologist Greg Watkins-Colwell.

The Torosaurus will remain wrapped up under a tarp for the next several weeks while the final installation is completed. The cover comes off during the official unveiling scheduled for Saturday, October 22, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Yale paleontologist and Museum Assistant Dan Brinkman, one of the dinosaur scientists at the Peabody Museum who was a scientific consultant on the project, will be on hand following the unveiling to discuss Torosaurus fossil discoveries and the scientists who made them.


At 10:40 PM, Blogger Bora Zivkovic said...

You need to send your stuff to the Tangled Bank, the blog carnival of science and nature:


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