Remembering the Sedgwick Museum

"Velociraptor" by Bangooh (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
“Velociraptor” by Bangooh (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Photo Credit: Josh Witten (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Photo Credit: Josh Witten (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Yesterday, we featured a lovely Lego sculpture of a running fox by Bangoo H. As one might expect, that was not Bangoo H’s only biologically inspired work. My eye was caught by this depiction of a velociraptor skeleton, which instantly transported me back to Cambridge, UK and the skeleton of the velociraptor’s close relative, Deinonychus, displayed in the Sedgwick Museum.

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Like any museum the Sedgwick Museum had its large, dramatic display pieces. It also had collected items crammed into every conceivable space and drawer (like the fossils of sea urchins in the slide show). There was always too much to take in everything with a single visit. So, each trip involved new discoveries, depending on which cases we chose to explore, which was part of the reason it was a fantastic place to bring our kids over and over again.

It’s Boxing Day. What are you going to do today?

Letter and drawing from Mary Anning announcing the discovery of a fossil animal now known as Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus, 26 December 1823 (Public Domain)

Mary Anning described the discovery of a plesiosaur to the world in a letter from 26 December 1823. You were probably hungover.

*For the unfamiliar, Boxing Day is the day after Christmas.

From Wikipedia via Kind of A Menace via Scientific Illustration

Speculative Electro-Paleontology

Soft tissues generally do not show up well in fossils. That missing information means that paleontology is particularly fertile ground for speculation. One of my favorite bits of paleontological speculation comes from Putting the Life Back in Science Fiction where a post wonders whether plesiosaurs had long necks to allow for electric organs like electric eels, useful for defense, electrolocation, and fishing. The post is careful to note that it is indulging in wild speculation.

The speculative theory probably isn’t true, but it is more fun to imagine that it is.