From the grave to the cradle

This is the arm of the Dryosaurus skeleton I put up earlier in the week. You can see here quite clearly that the bones are held in ‘cradles’ that then are bolted onto the main support for the skeleton. This technique for mounting specimens has become popular recently (the remodeled dinosaur gallery in the Humboldt in Berlin uses the same methods) and it’s a welcome change from the old style. The bones used to be bolted directly to the frame meaning that they were often drilled through or had rods and bolts put through the bones themselves.

Obviously this is infinitely preferable to any form of damage or manipulation of the bones. It allows them to be put out on public exhibition, but it *also* allows them to be removed as single units as the cradles can be simply taken off the frame, and the whole thing doesn’t have to be taken apart to get to a single element. As a compromise, it’s relaly pretty good.

5 Responses to “From the grave to the cradle”


  1. 1 Robert Sloan 14/01/2012 at 3:11 pm

    That is awesome. Thanks for the close-up and the clever title. I can see one other advantage – if research suggests a different pose would be more accurate or even if just rearranging an exhibit hall suggests a different pose, the cradles can be taken off and the frame redone a lot easier.

    I’m thinking, say, a hadrosaur on all fours could become a hadrosaur upright if they add a new exhibit without adding a new wing. That type of thing. Just as impressive – and not damaged as much in the reworking.

    That one bone can be taken off for study must make research a lot easier. Especially if that bone is quite high off the ground. I remember one of your earlier posts you mentioned dangling on a scaffold 20 feet up studying a Chinese sauropod mount.

  2. 2 Robert Sloan 14/01/2012 at 3:12 pm

    It also seems sturdier. I’m remembering the end of that classic Katharine Hepburn comedy, “Bringing Up Baby.” One of my favorite films. Not so happy an ending for the museum.

  3. 3 Heinrich Mallison 14/01/2012 at 7:53 pm

    Yeah, this is a great way to mount a specimen – however, contrary to what your post suggests, it is itself ‘old style’. It’s just that very many people simply didn’t notice how many skeletons were mounted in this way.

    The best example are the dinosaur and other animal mounts in Tübingen. Two Plateosaurus, one Kentrosaurus, fore- and hind limbs of Diplodocus, cave bears, and so on – all mounted with cradles, some of which were designed so that the individual bones can be taken out by rotating them, others held in place with a simple screw.

  4. 4 Gregory Brown 19/04/2014 at 6:19 am

    It is true, as Heinrich suggests, that this may be “old style” and in some ways nothing new…but the historic “old style” found in may US museums (perhaps better named “intermediate style”) show rather permanent, invasive mounting practices that do not reflect this method nor permit easy removal of any element with the possible exception of the head. Better techniques similar to “from the grave to the cradle” are increasingly used as old galleries are redone and skeletons remounted. More power to anyone researching these techniques and making the info available, whether old or new!


  1. 1 Mounting a skeleton: bones or casts? | dinosaurpalaeo Trackback on 22/01/2012 at 12:09 am
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