Learning More About Dinosaurs

Putting Dinosaurs Together

How are dinosaur bones mounted for display?

Once the fossilized dinosaur bones have been prepared and stabilized—and any missing pieces obtained—the skeleton is ready to be free-mounted. The purpose of the mounted dinosaur is to display the skeleton as it might have looked in real life.

The first step, as in any large-scale project, is planning. Sketches and scale models are made, showing what the display will look like. Any variations to the posture—perhaps to reflect new information or to make the display more realistic—can be made at this stage, avoiding costly changes during actual assembly. The sketches and models will also show whether the skeleton will fit into its designated exhibition space. It would be very costly, time-consuming (not to mention embarrassing) to find out during assembly that the skeleton does not “fit.” A good, final sketch can also be used as a guide during the actual assembly, as well as showing where extra support is needed.

Next, a strong steel armature (or armatures) is constructed and the individual dinosaur bones attached to it, in their proper places, of course. The armature is custom-made to provide enough support, but shaped to be unobtrusive. Because dinosaur bones are brittle, no stress can be placed on them; the armature is designed to support the weight of all the bones. Attachment of the bones to the armature is made using pins, bolts, or steel straps. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to hang cables from above to provide more support for parts of the skeleton.

Once the entire skeleton is mounted, there are still a few more details: the base on which the skeleton rests must be made visually appealing; barriers must be placed around the mount to protect it from the curious; and labels and display information created and positioned. At last, the dinosaur skeleton, which has remained hidden for millions of year, is ready to be viewed by the public.


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