Fitting the World’s Largest Dinosaur in the Museum of Natural History
Last year, paleontologists unearthed the remains of what they believed to be the most massive dinosaur ever to walk the earth. The newly discovered species Titanosaurus lived 95 to 100 million years ago, and weighed in at nearly 80 tons (the combined weight of 14 African elephants). After the 122-foot-long skeletal cast of the creature has been assembled, curators at the Museum of Natural History in New York will face the challenge of trying to fit it into the museum.
The exhibit is larger than anything else they have on display, including their 39-foot T. Rex and their 94-foot blue whale. A spot will be cleared for it in the spacious Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Orientation Center on the museum’s fourth floor, displacing the model of a juvenile Barosaurus that had been there since 1996. The back of the skeleton will nearly reach the room’s 19-foot ceilings, while its head and a portion of its neck will poke out of the entryway doors and into the elevator bank.
Because the paleontologists only discovered about 40 percent of a complete skeleton, the museum will fabricate the rest of the bones. The discovered fossils will be scanned into a computer, where the files can be flipped to fill in the gaps on the corresponding side. The replicas will then be 3D-printed using foam milling and coated with resin or fiberglass, creating a lightweight product that’s comparable to a surfboard. This makes the “bones” easier to handle and helps construction.
The model will go on display at the Museum of Natural History in January of 2016. Hopefully, by then scientists will have come up with an official name for the species—Supersaurus and Giganotosaurus have already been taken.
You can check out the museum's digital rendering of what the exhibit will look like in the video above.