Fossils bring life to the Peabody

1014_hsin_fossils
Photo by Carol Hsin.

Dinosaurs came back to life Wednesday at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

In celebration of the first annual National Fossil Day, Peabody Museum employees prepared a special, one-day exhibit to showcase their collection of rare vertebrate fossils to the public. With a particular focus on local fossils,

Peabody employees highlighted the 200-million-year-old Anchisaurus skeleton on display for the New Haven families who visited the exhibit. For children who attended the event, the museum’s wider collection of fossils and prehistoric rocks also caught their eye.

The fossils on display were chosen to appeal to their Connecticut audience, Peabody Head of Education and Outreach David Heiser said.

“I wanted people to see something that sort of came from their own backyard,” he explained.

Discovered in 1891 in Manchester, CT, the 200-million-year-old Anchisaurus skeleton is the most complete skeleton of its kind found in the state. Daniel Brinkman GRD ’94, museum assistant in the Division of Vertebrate Paleontology, said that Wednesday marked the first time the skeleton was put on public display.

Five-year-old Alexander Gilchenok, however, was more excited by the Peabody’s giant replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex head.

“The Tyrannosaurus Rex is my favorite dinosaur,” he said.

But other children expressed more interest in artifacts that did not relate to dinosaurs.

Gilchenok’s sister, eight-year-old Sofia, said she enjoyed the museum’s collection of rocks, but wished for a wider range of colors in the rocks on display.

“Purple is my favorite color,” she said.

Her other brother, engrossed in an audio tour of the exhibit, was unavailable for comment.

Thirteen-year-old Jake Henry Poulous, who was the 2009 winner of the Peabody Museum Paleo-Knowledge Bowl — an annual academic competition for third- to fifth-graders — attended the fossil exhibit with his mother. Sporting last year’s Paleo-Knowledge Bowl T-shirt and a mouthful of braces, Polous said his favorite fossil at the exhibit was “definitely” the Anchisaurus skull.

“I’m impressed by how well it was preserved,” he said. “This is just… cool.”

But the Anchisaurus, which, between 1932 and 1971, was officially known as Yaleosaurus colorus, was not the only fossil on display. The exhibit also featured a Poposaurus skeleton from Utah, a 220-million-year-old crocodile-like amphibian that was collected in 2003, as well as footprint fossils and Oviraptor egg replicas that visitors were allowed to examine.

Thomas Owsiany, a retired teacher and volunteer at the Museum, oversaw the ‘fossil touch table’. Ownsiany said he became involved with the museum after attending a geology workshop two years ago and has since trained to lead museum tours.

“I love it here,” he said.

The Division of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Peabody Museum sends researchers to Arizona, North Dakota, Utah and Montana every summer to collect fossils.

Comments