ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Diggin' For Dinosaurs - National Museum of Natural History

Updated on March 30, 2010

National Museum of Natural History, District of Columbia

To find the most powerful characters in Washington, D.C., head to the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue - and then keep walking. Continue a few blocks southeast to the large Beaux Arts building with a central dome. There, in the National Museum of Natural History, you'll complete your quest in Dinosaur Hall, dedicated to the creatures who ruled the planet for 160 million years during the Mesozoic period. No other incumbent in Washington can match that record.

Dinosaur experts hold the Smithsonian Institution in high regard, especially for its late Jurassic species. It's a very important collection and one of the top three in the world. That would befit the Smithsonian itself as it has always been known as America’s Attic and is arguably the single most important and relevant museum in the United States of America, and some may even argue in the world.

The fossil exhibits trace their ancestry back to 1846, when Congress gave the Smithsonian Institution authority over something called the National Cabinet of Curiosities. The name was a holdover from the days when aristocrats owned elaborate wooden cabinets, in which they stored odd objects ranging from old bones to religious artifacts. The Smithsonian's fossil collection grew dramatically in the early 1900s, when the institution took possession of specimens collected by the famed dinosaur hunter Othniel Charles Marsh, partly as a result of his collecting wars with Edward Drinker Cope (p. 28).

Marsh's legacy still shines in Dinosaur Hall. As visitors work their way toward the back, they happen on one of the prizes collected by Marsh's men in Ca-on City, Colorado, in 1883. An ebony-colored, 21-foot-long skeleton of Allosaurus fragilis stares down with a wide-open mouthful of daggerlike teeth. Something of a celebrity, this specimen posed for the cover of humorist Gary Larson's The Prehistory of the Far Side.

Marsh's Allosaurus is considered the most complete currently on display anywhere in the world. More than just a collection of connected bones, the specimen provides powerful insight into the life of this Jurassic predator. Take a close look and compare the two shoulder blades. The left side has an unusual chunk of bone not seen on the right - a sign that the left shoulder broke and healed at some point in the dinosaur's life. The belly ribs were also all broken and healed (although these are not on display).

Beside the Allosaurus is the familiar fossil form of Stegosaurus. A papier-maché restoration of Stegosaurus stands across the aisle from the fossil. A less conspicuous model of a tiny, shrewlike mammal peers out from beneath the car-sized dinosaur, and a glass case to the left displays an assortment of minuscule jawbones from Jurassic mammals, some no bigger than a dime. Fans of Stegosaurus should walk around the center island to view a nearly complete skeleton, positioned on its side as it was found in the field. This is one of the crown jewels of the Smithsonian's dinosaur collection. Until recently, it was the most complete Stegosaurus known. Shown partly encased in rock, the specimen, nicknamed "the roadkill," gives some idea of how much work it takes to extricate a large dinosaur from the ground.

Continued in: Diggin' For Dinosaurs - National Museum of Natural History, Part 2

Back To Start

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)