Not to worry, Eliza has not suddenly morphed into a "big boned" person. But, she did get to live out a dinosaur-loving-budding-paleontologist's dream and take a Behind the Scenes evening tour at the American Museum of Natural History and visit the Big Bone Room and the Preparation Room. The place was awesome and the tour was even more special since her dino-loving friend Archie and his mom joined us on the adventure.
The place is pretty impressive and the bones housed in the Big Bone Room are 70 million to 210 million years old. There are over 3 million dinosaur specimens at AMNH, and only about .02% are on display. These are some specimens that no one, except those lucky enough to take the tour, get to see:
We met one of the AMNH Preparators (what a great job title!). This guy has an awesome job since he gets the first peek at the fossils when they arrive at the museum, or in some cases, finally taken out of storage since there are thousands of specimens that have yet to be examined. The Preparator essentially "unwraps" the fossil from its casing of plaster and earth and prepares the fossil for further examination. Archie chimed in with some good questions for the Preparator about the tools he used for his job.
Our other tour guide was Carl, the Paleontology Collections Director. Eliza asked Carl some pointed questions and advised him that Triceratops was related to Chasmosaurus and Protoceratops (which they are). Not bad for a five year old!
In addition to the big bone collection, AMNH has a huge collection on loan from Mongolia, including Oviraptors with their eggs found in the Gobi Dessert. The Gobi Dessert fossils are bleached white and the consistency of chalk. Here is Carl with an Oviraptor fossil:
Did I mention Carl was there too?
We really liked Carl :)
If you are a lover of all things dino and paleontology, I highly recommend a night time Behind the Scenes tour at AMNH. You can see more about the tour here.
Since I left my camera at home, the photos above are courtesy of some other kind folks.