Tellus' Appalachiosaurus to receive shorter arms Friday
by Marie Nesmith
Dec 20, 2012 | 3173 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tellus Executive Director Jose Santamaria, from left, Curator Julian Gray and Exhibits Manager Brian Conway examine the parts that have come in for the museum’s Appalachiosaurus exhibit update. The public is invited Friday to the actual installation in the Fossil Gallery at 1 p.m.SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Tellus Executive Director Jose Santamaria, from left, Curator Julian Gray and Exhibits Manager Brian Conway examine the parts that have come in for the museum’s Appalachiosaurus exhibit update. The public is invited Friday to the actual installation in the Fossil Gallery at 1 p.m.SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Responding to the latest scientific data, Tellus Science Museum is giving its Appalachiosaurus a makeover. Along with shorter arms, the installation on Friday will reduce the skeleton replica’s clawed fingers in number from three to two.

“There’s been some new science since we put the fossil on exhibit, pretty strong evidence that we have the wrong arms on our cast for the dinosaur,” Tellus Curator Julian Gray said. “After a couple of years we have been polling scientists and checking in with them over the last few years and it’s become evident to us that we do indeed have the wrong arms on the Appalachiosaurus that we have on exhibit.

“So we’re going to correct that on Friday. We’ve ordered the replacement arms from the company that made our cast of the Appalachiosaurus. ... I don’t have the length of the arms but it’s very massive. It’s very long, like 3- to 4-foot long versus 18 inches long. So it’s going to be a dramatic change in the arms. Also, the arms that we have on it currently that we feel are incorrect have three fingers, or claws, and the new and we feel correct arms are going to be dramatically shorter and have only two fingers.”

In honor of this new information, Tellus will present “My, What Long Arms You Have” on Friday. The Lunch and Learn program will include a moderated panel featuring paleontologist David Schwimmer, Tellus Executive Director Jose Santamaria and Gray at noon. After discussing what led to the decision to update its Appalachiosaurus, Tellus will invite the public to also attend the installation in the Fossil Gallery at 1 p.m.

“Very few times do you find a complete skeleton of an animal, especially a dinosaur,” Santamaria said. “A lot of times you find just enough bones for you to make a decision of what it would look like and [you also consider] relatives of its kind. With the Appalachiosaurus, there were no arm bones found initially. So we kind of knew the structure, we kind of knew the relatives and then one paleontologist found a bone [that] he said was an arm bone, a humerus. So that information went to the folks that were making this cast and the company decided to go with the long arms based on this one guy’s interpretation.

“So that’s how it all started. But once we received the cast and we assembled it and started publicizing it — this all happened before we opened even — we started getting feedback that the arms were probably wrong. So we have two sides, each arguing for their position. And then we had a lot of paleontologists in the middle saying, ‘Well, we don’t know enough to determine which way to go.’ So then, since we opened there’s been more accumulating evidence now that this [Appalachiosaurus] probably has short arms just like a [Tyrannosaurus rex] has very short arms.”

According to Santamaria, the Appalachiosaurus lived about 78 million years ago in the Southeastern states, with parts of its skeleton discovered in Georgia and Alabama around 20 years ago.

“Science moves forward and we’re recognizing that,” Gray said. “We’re not going to stay with incorrect answers. If this is something that’s new, that’s come to light and some new research shows that one of our own exhibits is incorrect, we’re going to make it right. We want to have scientifically correct exhibits and that’s what we’re doing now.”

While the Lunch and Learn program will be free for Tellus members, regular admission fees will apply for non-members. For more information, call the museum — 100 Tellus Drive in Cartersville — at 770-606-5700 or visit www.tellusmuseum.org.