The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, March 19, 1975, Page page 7, Image 7

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    Bone-building task yields
two faces of the allosaurus
By Deb Gray
Consider the challenges of
Roger Van diver's job.
He's presented with an
"after" picture - in this case a
16-foot tower of dinosaur
bones and pastes together a
life-size "before" replica of
reptilian fury. A "before" that
backtracks through ice ages,
back to a pre-Neanderthal era.
For over a year, Vandiver,
exhibit technician in Morrill
Hall, " has built an
as-ti ue - to-life -as-possible
reconstruction of an
Allosaurus, a tyrant of the
dinosaur world rivaled only by
the Tyrannosaurus Rex. The
former UNL fine arts major
siad the project necessitated "a
lot of reading" about the
shapes and sizes of dinosaurs
and studies of living reptiles.
Especially, the crocodile, he
said the project necessitated "a
And, Vandiver said, he used
the skeleton which came from
Utah - "There's hardly any
dinosaur bones in Nebraska" -as
a blueprint. By feeling the
texture of the bones, he said,
he could locate the rough spots
signifying muscle attachments.
Muscles contoured
Vandiver outlined the steps
to put together his
2,600-pound creation. First, he
built the frame out of welded
steel. Next, he added bent steel
channels shaped into body
curvatures, a drape for muscle.
"Comparable to the ribs on a
ship," Vandiver said.
Then, the body is covered
with a hardware cloth and
paper-mached over with an
asbestos material.
The Allosaurus' exhibit will
open April 1. This gallery has
been under construction for
four or five years, "long
before I came here," said
museum director James
And, with the completion
of one exhibit,, another begins.'
According to Gunnerson, an
exhibit under construction on
second floor will showcase
creatures from the largely
marine world of invertebrate
paleontology - the clams,
snails, shellfish and other lower
Prehistoric swamp
Gunnerson said these
spineless creatures will be
placed in their native setting, a
paleobotonic swamp. Through
studying specimens from that
era, museum technicians will
construct a prehistoric swamp
around the exhibit.
Although the exhibits
change continuously, "It's not
as often as we would like,"
Gunnerson said. Sometimes the
span between an idea and its
realization is eight years, he
The museum will install the
exhibit in stages, Gunnerson
J i '
April 1, on second floor of Morrill Hall, an exhibit featur
ing this Allosaurus skeleton opens.
said, the first part opening in
Why so long to get an
exhibit ready?
"Planning takes the most
times," Gunnerson said.
"There's a lot of information
presented in an exhibit, and we
want it to be accurate. It
doesn't have to be a detailed
exhibit to take a long time."
Arising questions
While putting together an
Allosaurus, Gunnerson said, all
sorts of questions creep up.
"Where did the muscles go?
How big were they? Even then,
there's a certain amount of
guesswork about what the skin
would have looked like. So we
look at the skin of certain
modern animals. What would a
dinosaur's eye look like?
"These things all take time,
because we want to convey the
best information. Whoever is
looking at that gallery expects
to have an accurate view of
what that thing, was really
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A recreation of an Allosaurus (left) looms
over exhibit preparers on the second floor of the
State Museum. The new dinosaur exhibit is
scheduled to open April 1. Visitors (below) on
the main floor of the State Museum. Only 1 per
cent of the University's specimen collection is
exhibited at the State Museum; the rest is stored
in Nebraska Hall, like the elephant skull (above
right) and stuffed alligators (above). The State
Historical Society stores old records in its archive
collection (above, middle).
r i I HI J j
Sauropodian Assemblage
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j ........ . , .
photos by steve boerner
Wednesday, march 19, 1375
daily nebraskan
page 7