Learning More About Dinosaurs

Putting Dinosaurs Together

What happens to excavated dinosaur bones after they reach a museum?

What happens to excavated dinosaur bones depends on whether or not the museum or institute plans to exhibit the find in the near future. If there are no immediate plans for the bones, they will be placed in safe storage until time and funds are available for their preparation. However, if the skeleton is to be put on display relatively quickly—as in the case of a new, spectacular species—then the bones will go through a fairly standard preparation process.

Simply put, the bones must be removed from the encasing rock during the preparation process. Next, any missing parts must be identified and a substitute found. Lastly, the bones are attached together and the entire skeleton is mounted for display. This process is tedious and time-consuming. For example, it took seven years of work until the Apatosaurus at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City was exhibited to the public.


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