Stories tagged collections

Dec
27
2011

The Finishing Touches: When last we saw the mammoth, the base had been completed but still had to be painted and the tusks had to be attached.
The Finishing Touches: When last we saw the mammoth, the base had been completed but still had to be painted and the tusks had to be attached.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Specialized Inserts were Created for Each Tusk: This is the view from the underside of the mammoth's left tusk.
Specialized Inserts were Created for Each Tusk: This is the view from the underside of the mammoth's left tusk.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Attaching the Mammoth's Left Tusk: A bolt is attached to the tusk and is threaded through the insert inside the tusk cavity.
Attaching the Mammoth's Left Tusk: A bolt is attached to the tusk and is threaded through the insert inside the tusk cavity.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Tightening the Bolt from Above
Tightening the Bolt from AboveCourtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

The Insert for the Right Tusk is Built into the Skull's Actual Tusk
The Insert for the Right Tusk is Built into the Skull's Actual TuskCourtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Attaching the Right Tusk
Attaching the Right TuskCourtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Tightening the Screw for the Right Tusk
Tightening the Screw for the Right TuskCourtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

The Finished Skull: Check back to see how the skull is installed for exhibition!
The Finished Skull: Check back to see how the skull is installed for exhibition!Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

I know, I know, it's not Friday. But I didn't post the Science Friday video last week. (Or the week before, for that matter, and that one's up next.)

Science Friday
Science FridayCourtesy Science Friday

This week (last week?):

"Crocuses, robins, spring peepers aren't the only creatures to signal spring. We visited the "Insect Compactor" at the American Museum of Natural History in New York to learn about which bugs to look out for as the weather warms. Keep your eyes on the willow trees--that's where early bees like to hang out."
Mar
17
2011

Wire Mesh Forms the Base: Most of the time, fossils that paleontologists find are incomplete.  In this case, about half of the skull was missing.  In order to provide a better understanding of what the skull looked like, paleontologists reconstruct the missing portions based on other similar specimens.
Wire Mesh Forms the Base: Most of the time, fossils that paleontologists find are incomplete. In this case, about half of the skull was missing. In order to provide a better understanding of what the skull looked like, paleontologists reconstruct the missing portions based on other similar specimens.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Sculpting: Plaster and other materials are sculpted on to the wire base.
Sculpting: Plaster and other materials are sculpted on to the wire base.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Sculpting Foam: To recreate larger sections, foam pieces are sculpted.
Sculpting Foam: To recreate larger sections, foam pieces are sculpted.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Comparing the sides of the skull: Measurements for the reconstructed side are based on the preserved half of the skull.  The preparators try and make the skull as symmetrical as possible.
Comparing the sides of the skull: Measurements for the reconstructed side are based on the preserved half of the skull. The preparators try and make the skull as symmetrical as possible.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Finished Foam
Finished FoamCourtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Covering the foam: The foam is painted with grit to make it appear like a fossil.
Covering the foam: The foam is painted with grit to make it appear like a fossil.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Tusks: The actual tusks are too heavy for the skull to support.  Lightweight foam tusks were made and will be attached to the skull.
Tusks: The actual tusks are too heavy for the skull to support. Lightweight foam tusks were made and will be attached to the skull.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Front of the Nearly Finsihed Skull
Front of the Nearly Finsihed SkullCourtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Back of the Nearly Finished Skull
Back of the Nearly Finished SkullCourtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Feb
04
2011

Field Jacket is Half Off: Last week we left off with the skull at the beginning of the cleaning /preparation process.  This photo shows what the skull looks like when half of it has been cleaned! Once the whole skull has been cleaned the skull will be ready to be oriented in it's anatomical position.
Field Jacket is Half Off: Last week we left off with the skull at the beginning of the cleaning /preparation process. This photo shows what the skull looks like when half of it has been cleaned! Once the whole skull has been cleaned the skull will be ready to be oriented in it's anatomical position.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Attaching the Mount: In order to get the skull upright, a special mount is created.  The mount is attached to the skull via steel pins which are embedded in plaster.  This photo also shows the reconstructions of one of the skulls molars and portions of the reconstructed maxilla.
Attaching the Mount: In order to get the skull upright, a special mount is created. The mount is attached to the skull via steel pins which are embedded in plaster. This photo also shows the reconstructions of one of the skulls molars and portions of the reconstructed maxilla.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Raising the Skull: Once the mount has been firmly attached to the skull the entire apparatus has to be lifted with a forklift so it can be oriented correctly and attached to the mount’s base.
Raising the Skull: Once the mount has been firmly attached to the skull the entire apparatus has to be lifted with a forklift so it can be oriented correctly and attached to the mount’s base.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

The Upright Skull: The mounted skull has been securely attached to its standing platform.  Check back next week to see the mount disappear as portions of the skull are reconstructed in the final blog post of this series.
The Upright Skull: The mounted skull has been securely attached to its standing platform. Check back next week to see the mount disappear as portions of the skull are reconstructed in the final blog post of this series.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Jan
27
2011

How does a fossil go from being discovered to being a part of the Science Museum’s collections? In this first in a series of three posts, we’ll track a mammoth skull from being discovered in the field through the initial cleaning and processing at the museum. Check out the photos and the brief description of the process.

Lyle Excavation: In 1997, William Lyle discovered a fossil eroding from an embankment on his farm located just outside of Albert Lea, MN.  Museum staff were contacted and a salvage excavation was conducted.
Lyle Excavation: In 1997, William Lyle discovered a fossil eroding from an embankment on his farm located just outside of Albert Lea, MN. Museum staff were contacted and a salvage excavation was conducted.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Mammoth Skull: A close inspection of the skull reveals that it’s a woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius).  The skull is believed to be from an adult male due to the large size of the skull and tusks, the large number enamel ridges on its molars, and the concave slope of the forehead.
Mammoth Skull: A close inspection of the skull reveals that it’s a woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius). The skull is believed to be from an adult male due to the large size of the skull and tusks, the large number enamel ridges on its molars, and the concave slope of the forehead.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Field Jacket: Once the skull and tusks have been excavated, they have to be prepared for safe transport back to the museum.   A plaster field jacket is wrapped around the skull and the adjacent sediment.
Field Jacket: Once the skull and tusks have been excavated, they have to be prepared for safe transport back to the museum. A plaster field jacket is wrapped around the skull and the adjacent sediment.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Removing Field Jacket: Back in the lab, the first step is to cut away portions of the plaster field jacket.
Removing Field Jacket: Back in the lab, the first step is to cut away portions of the plaster field jacket.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Removing Matrix: Next, museum volunteer Neva Key removes the loose sediment matrix that surrounds the skull.  This is often a very labor intensive job and can take months to finish.
Removing Matrix: Next, museum volunteer Neva Key removes the loose sediment matrix that surrounds the skull. This is often a very labor intensive job and can take months to finish.Courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota

Check back next week for part two of the three part series on the Lyle Mammoth, when the challenge of creating a mount for the skull to stand upright will be discussed.

Ask a curator

by Liza on Sep. 01st, 2010

It's "ask a curator" day on Twitter.

Twitter
TwitterCourtesy Twitter

SMM curators are in on the action. You can post to Twitter, or leave a question on SMM's Facebook wall.

Even though #askacurator is a special event -- a one-time offer -- EVERY day is "ask us!" day on Science Buzz. So jump into the conversation!

Jun
01
2007

Catfish skull
Catfish skull
Every month we pull an object out of the Science Museum of Minnesota's collections and put it on display here at the museum and let you write your own label for the object. This month's we found a catfish skull and it looks particularly cool to my eyes. It's spiky and and kinda looks like it has a mohawk.

What do you think about this unique fish? Head on over to the object of the month and try your hand at writing a label.

Sep
02
2006

Iron pyrite: Photo by Art Oglesby
Iron pyrite: Photo by Art Oglesby

Best mineral ID website

We get a variety of rocks, minerals, and crystals from traders at SMM's Collector's Corner. Sometimes we need reference books or use the internet to identify specimens. Webmineral.com has the most comprehensive mineral image library on the web. Their pictures of over 2,700 different species represents 60% of all known minerals. This mineral database contains 4,442 individual mineral species.
To differentiate minerals, several properties need to be identified.

The section on crystallography has a tool that allows you to see crystals from any angle by using the computer mouse. Another section gives chemical composition, or to see all minerals that contain a certain element. The search tool allows one to enter several properties with the most relevant finds placed first in the results.

Another Collector's Corner

The "Collectors Corner" of the Mineralogical Society of America features an excellent, on-line, mineral identification key by Alan Plante, Donald Peck, & David Von Bargen. Their identification key is also based on simple mineralogical tests such as luster, hardness, color and physical description for the most common minerals an individual is likely to encounter.