The Titanosaur (Permanent Exhibition) by Michael Meister
2016 - 2017, Golden A' Natural Sciences and Mathematics Design Award Winner
When paleontologists uncover a new fossil, they rarely find all of the bones. This life-sized Titanosaur skeleton was recreated using the 84 bones discovered in Argentina, along with computer generated models of the missing bones based on analysis of the dino’s close relatives. The well-preserved nature of these bones, the sheer enormity of the creature, and the novelty of its discovery were all inspiration for recreating the skeleton to display it for the general public.
Fossils of this specific Titanosaur, one among a diverse group of sauropod dinosaurs, were discovered in the Argentinian desert in 2014. This particular dinosaur, which is so new that it has not yet been officially named by paleontologists, is thought to be the largest creature ever to walk the Earth. It stands at 46 feet tall, 122 feet long and would have weighed in at around 70 tons. The American Museum of Natural History casted and mounted a replica of the dinosaur and brought five of the original fossils to the exhibit, in an effort to include the public in this ground breaking discovery.
Design Challenges
Fitting the entire Titanosaur in the Wallach Orientation Center was the greatest challenge to overcome. There were many things to consider, such as the positioning of the dinosaur, where the head and tail should be situated, and mounting the creature in a scientifically accurate manner. Since the spacing between vertebrae was unknown, reconstructing the Titanosaur proved to be difficult. Additionally, positioning the Titanosaur in such a way that the majority of its body could fit on its pedestal and inside the orientation center proved to be a difficult task. The Titanosaur now sits in the hall, with its tail fit inside and a correctly aligned spine, crouched on the pedestal as if to welcome the millions of visitors who walk through its new home.
Production Technology
The Titanosaur bones were 3D scanned on the field and in the project lab in Argentina. The digitized data was then used to carve bones out of foam using a 5-axis cutting machine. Next, the foam molds were used to make fiberglass casts, which were in turn melted together and assembled in the museum. The displays surrounding the Titanosaur and throughout the exhibit were all made in house.
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