After roaming the freezing streets of Pittsburgh and admiring good ole “Dippy the Dinosaur,” it was finally time to enter the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. We anxiously purchased our tickets before making our way down an immense corridor leading to the dinosaurs. I knew we were in the right place when I spied their famous “Lion Attacking a Dromedary” display.
This dynamic rendering made headlines recently when it was moved for restoration and a scan revealed that the man’s head had an actual human skull underneath! While it was known that human teeth and animal bones were used in this piece, the skull came as a big surprise and an investigation into its origin is underway. I’d read the article when it came out but couldn’t remember the details so all I could do when my buddy, David, and I were in front of it was point and say, “Take a good look at this…there’s something interesting about it…but I can’t remember what it is!” I should mention that the purpose of our weekend in Pennsylvania was to celebrate his 50th birthday with mine trailing slightly behind his in 2020. Obviously, the “senior moments” have already begun.
In order for us to reach their permanent “Dinosaurs in their Time” exhibit, we first had to pass thru the gift shop. For David and I this was hardly an issue as we both love a good dino-store and I must say I’d really been looking forward to this one. After all, it must be pretty amazing if Safari Ltd even had their own collection of dinosaur models named after it! Unfortunately, it was nowhere near what I’d hoped for and neither of us bought anything (which for us is really saying something). Other than having a cool replica of a theropod and the head of a Dunkleosteus, it was something of a dud.
We passed by their lab which had a big glass wall allowing visitors to see Paleontologists working on actual specimens. As it was a Sunday, there weren’t any people working inside but you could still see a wide array of fossils being worked on.
I was less interested in those as I was in a neat statue of a mastodon sitting inside. I guess this is what happens when you get starved at the gift shop. Actually, it was probably a good thing their store didn’t offer one of these as I’d of had a hell of a time trying to lug it back home with me to Chicago.
We reached the dinosaurs and straight out of the gate I saw one of the main specimens I wanted to see. It was a juvenile Camarasaurus lentus that was found intact at the Morrison Formation back in 1915! David and I had seen a replica of this fossil (still encased in the rock it was found in) last June at the Dinosaur Journey of Western Colorado Museum (which I talked about HERE). I can’t tell you how excited I was to see the real thing!
Safari Ltd. came out with their own version of this beast a while back and I do have it in my collection. I noticed that the museum also had one (with a bunch of other models) for kids could play with.
What really enhanced Carnegie’s displays were the amazing, vibrantly colored murals behind the specimens. Not only did they depict what the animal might have looked like when it was alive but also the environment it lived in.
At last, it was time to see the first large room full of dinosaurs…
To be continued…