Plaster Dinosaurs and Old Books

Museums house more specimens off exhibit than are on display. This is certainly the case with the Bruce Museum science collections. Two such objects which are some of my personal favorites are old plaster dinosaur models. These models date from the early twentieth century and represent the paleontological information known of the day. The two models are of the species Stegomus (Stegomosuchus) longipes and Anomoepus scambus (longicauda). These two models were illustrated in the the 1915 publication "Triassic Life of the Connecticut Valley" by Richard Swann Lull. Stegomosuchus roamed the wilds in what is now New Haven and Anomoepus could be found in South Hadley, Massachusetts. 

 A beast of a publication at 285 pages, the Triassic Life of Connecticut divulges the wealth of information known to paleontologists of its time.

A beast of a publication at 285 pages, the Triassic Life of Connecticut divulges the wealth of information known to paleontologists of its time.

Lull became interested in fossil dinosaur footprints and eventually became and expert on them. Beginning in 1906, he was appointed as the Assistant Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology at Yale College, and Associate Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Yale Peabody Museum. Connecticut has a plethora of dinosaur fossils; we even have several in our collection at the Bruce Museum, one of which you can get up close and personal with in the Changes in Our Land gallery. 

 Triassic dinosaur footprints in the Changes in our Land gallery.

Triassic dinosaur footprints in the Changes in our Land gallery.

  Stegomus  ( Stegomosuchus )  longipes  plaster model posed with its illustration. This model is in relatively good condition seeing as how it is approximately 100 years old!

Stegomus (Stegomosuchus) longipes plaster model posed with its illustration. This model is in relatively good condition seeing as how it is approximately 100 years old!

During the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, models of prehistoric animals were created to obtain a sense of what the animals may have looked like in life. Today, scientists may use 3D rendering and computer animation. Models were also made to propose potential museum exhibits, as well as to illustrate books and scientific publications. Much of the science we know about these animals has changed and today these types of models are not biologically accurate. What they do portray though is a point in time in the rich history of paleontology. We are grateful to have these models in the collection as a reminder of Connecticut's part in this history and the personalities involved. We recently located and purchased a copy of the above publication. It is wonderful to have these objects, rich in history, under one roof.

Tim Walsh

  Anomoepus scambus   (  longicauda  ) illustrated.

Anomoepus scambus (longicauda) illustrated.

  Anomoepus scambus  ( longicauda ). This species was an herbivore and is known for having bird-like feet.

Anomoepus scambus (longicauda). This species was an herbivore and is known for having bird-like feet.