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The Establishment of the Smithsonian Institution | The Start of Dinosaur Research and Collections | The New United States National Museum | Modern Times at the  National Museum of Natural History

Modern Times at the  National Museum of Natural History

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Modern Times at the National Museum of Natural History

The new Triceratops mount, completed in 2000Since then, two of our exhibit specimens have been removed for conservation. After nearly a century of exhibition, many of the dinosaur bones had begun to crack due to the vibrations from millions of visitors and the great changes in ambient humidity. Without replacement, the specimens may have undergone a “second extinction.” In 2000, the Triceratops mount was the first to be conserved, and the original bones were repaired and placed in the collections. The mounted skeleton was replaced by plaster casts, now in a more scientifically accurate pose. In 2003 our Stegosaurus was also conserved and replaced with a mount that was designed to be responsive to the Allosaurus directly behind it. In 2004 we begin the same process on our Camptosaurus, which will return to display in 2005.

Collections Specialist Dr. Michael Brett-SurmanIn addition to exhibit additions and changes, dinosaur research in dinosaur paleontology has undergone a revitalization in the last thirty years. In 1979 the Smithsonian Institution hired Michael K. Brett-Surman as a Collections Specialist, and in 1988 he became the first Smithsonian employee to obtain a Ph.D. in dinosaur paleontology. In 1992 the first of a series of new dinosaur expeditions was begun, to the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming. These new collections include dinosaur footprints (Jurassic), bones (Jurassic and Cretaceous), and eggshells (Jurassic). 

Curator of Dinosaurs Dr. Matthew Carrano

In 2003 the Smithsonian Institution hired Dr. Matthew T. Carrano as its first dinosaur specialist since Gilmore’s time, and its first official Curator of Dinosaurs. He recently led expeditions to the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming to collect Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous dinosaurs, as well as to the Cretaceous deposits of Madagascar.

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