Near perfection with Gorgosaurus

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This is the famous Gorgosaurus specimen at the Tyrrell that is pretty much perfection when it comes to tyrannosaurs. It’s as complete a skeleton as you are every likely to see, in wonderful condition, articulated pretty much perfectly and in an iconic posture. I loved simply looking at it, and it’s a hell of a thing.

I did not however love taking a photo of it, the position it has been put it, combined with the lighting in the hall makes it extremely hard to photograph. Now while museums can’t cater to the requirements or demands of every single visitor (some want it light, some dark, some want things high up, others low down, some want chairs, some want spaces etc.) it is frustrating that what is possibly their best specimen on display is annoyingly hard to photograph and hence this single decent shot which really doesn’t show off the feet properly, or indeed the complete (yes, actually really complete) tail.

Even so, it’s a magnificent specimen and I think the photo does it a decent amount of justice and at least lets you see the real quality of the preservation and indeed the preparation to get it out like this. Enjoy.

12 Responses to “Near perfection with Gorgosaurus”


  1. 1 Heinrich Mallison 02/07/2013 at 5:11 pm

    Yep – absolutely wonderful. And I know only too well about badly placed and lit specimens :(

  2. 2 steve cohen 02/07/2013 at 6:26 pm

    Same problem for some fabulous displays at AMNH.

    If a display has to be behind glass (why not just a railing?) at least using non-reflecting glass could be a reasonable accommodation.

    Anyone want to bet how long it will be before that happens??!!

    • 3 David Hone 02/07/2013 at 6:58 pm

      Well non-reflecting glass is much more expensive I think which doesn’t help. I do sympathise with museums having to compromise on all kinds of visitors and issues (health and safety, lighting, photos, kids and adults, occasional large numbers, costs, accessibility, floor / ceiling loading, climate control etc.) and it’s impossible to do everything you want and to keep everyone happy, but you would think more places would do more for their premium specimens.

    • 4 Heinrich Mallison 02/07/2013 at 8:23 pm

      the key problem with the AMNH is that they planned massive amounts of glass into a room with large windows and lots of natural light.

  3. 5 Thomas Peace (author) 02/07/2013 at 9:29 pm

    Nice photo of the remnants of a most wonderful and amazing creature! Don’t feel too bad about photographing options. The last time we were at the Field Museum in Chicago, we stopped there (impromptu) after my wife’s doctor appointment. I did not (most unfortunately) have my camera with me! (That hurt!)

  4. 6 George Hancock 04/07/2013 at 1:32 pm

    Have there ever been any flat fossils for large dromaeosaurs e.g. deinonychus and velociraptor.

    • 7 David Hone 04/07/2013 at 7:15 pm

      Tianyuraptor isn’t that small, and is getting on for Velociraptor size but that’s about it. Still now we have things like Yutyrannus and Beipiaosaurus turning up, if there were very large dromaeosaurs in something like the Yixian, we should find them sooner or later.

  5. 8 Darren Tanke 07/07/2013 at 7:13 pm

    This remains the only mounted dinosaur I have ever made for the Royal Tyrrell Museum. The free floating ribs as seen here are a first I believe for original bone. The lower ribs seen here are in perfect anatomical position, This was achieved achieved by preparing them out on the other side (but when specimen was flipped over). They were prepared in place then removed as close to the rib head as possible along pre-existing cracks. Rock was left around the rib head and filled with toilet paper. When this side of the mount (side seen here) was being made, the toilet paper plugs were removed, glue applied to the broken end of the loose section of rib. The glued end was inserted into the hole in the rock and the bone piece manipulated until a proper match was made. It had to be held by hand for 20 minutes until the glue set. All this fitting could not be seen visually, but all done by feel. The result was quite spectacular. Quite proud of how it turned out. Phil Currie and I jointly found this in the summer of 1991. He found an astragalus and asked me to collect it, then walked away. The rest of the skeleton was attached!

  6. 9 Sheila Chambers 07/07/2013 at 10:17 pm

    Fantastic specimen! It’s virtually complete and very well preserved.

    Do you have a polarizing filter for your camera? That’s very effective for removing reflections on glass.
    For correcting the exposure, I use PhotoShop or Google’s free Picasa app.

  7. 10 Bruce Mohn 11/07/2013 at 8:06 pm

    Visitor proofing can be a real horror story. Railings aren’t enough. The NMNH had their Diceratops skull badly damaged when two students started fighting and one was thrown over the rail into the skull. I also recall a Camarasaurus skeleton there that repeatedly had damage to a bone that visitors could reach over the rail and touch. I agree with you that glass can be a real pain when you’re trying to photograph something as gorgeous as this specimen, but I’d rather have it behind glass and safe!

  8. 11 jrabdale 08/08/2013 at 7:45 pm

    This specimen is unquestionably one of the finest examples of this particular species that I have ever seen. I think that it’s an excellent photo, despite your problems photographing it. Yes, I too think that a specimen of such high quality should be displayed somewhere more prominently, but that’s up to the museum to decide.

    I also agree with Bruce Mohn – sometimes railings just aren’t enough. I hate the fact that many of the fossils in the AMNH are inside “glass boxes” for lack of a better term, because there’s a distinct impersonal feeling to it. On the other hand, I can understand why one would put fossils inside glass boxes due to the risk of damage by the public.


  1. 1 Another incredible Gorgosaurus | Dave Hone's Archosaur Musings Trackback on 07/07/2013 at 8:47 am

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