Should Museums Mount Real Dinosaur Skeletons or Fossil Replicas?

Few things compare to the wonder of walking into a museum and being faced with a dinosaur. Children often experience this for the first time while on field trips while adults are also known to be filled with wonder during times such as these. A lot of thought and effort goes into the mounting of that dinosaur. One of the most critical things organizers answer is whether to use a dinosaur skeleton or a fossil replica.

In most cases, after taking everything into consideration, using a fossil replica is the best option for museums.

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For one thing, casts are lighter than real bones, meaning that they need less support. Conversely, using all of the support necessary for real bones can be too distracting for visitors. That added support also puts higher stresses on the bones that would be the case if they were stored in a more secure location, unsupported. It can also be quite complicated to mount real bones, and they’d need to be regularly checked on as well to ensure that they remain in top condition.

Additionally, those who need to access them such as researchers and curators will not be able to easily do so, needing to either get themselves up to where the bones are or have them brought down. It should also be noted that the temperature and humidity of exhibition rooms are generally not at the levels they would be if the preservation of the bones was the primary concern.

Another plus to consider when using a fossil replica is that these bones can be colored, something that is obviously never going to happen when a dinosaur skeleton is used.

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In some cases, not every single bone of a dinosaur has been recovered. However, when using a replica, this is not a concern at all. Mirror images of dinosaurs can be made with casts too.

However, perhaps the most important benefit of using a replica is that these bones can be replaced. If real bones are mounted and damaged, the specimen is ruined.

It should also be noted that security surrounding the bones won’t be as much of a concern when casts are used since a bone made from that is not priceless like an actual dinosaur bone is.

 

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Of course, neither real bones nor fossil replicas are realistic depictions of what dinosaurs looked like since they don’t include the outer structures of these animals. Approximations exist, of course, and they do present fascinating images. Anyone who has seen, “Jurassic Park,” can attest to that. Some people even enjoy taking on those images themselves by dressing up as dinosaurs.

But displaying the bone structures of dinosaurs at museums is the most realistic way to show what these animals looked like since we don’t know with certainty what they looked like other than their bones. Fossil replicas do that just as well as real bones.