Black Beauty

IMG_2084So here is one of the absolute classics of palaeontological mounts – the Tyrannosaurus specimen known as ‘Black Beauty’. Actually from a scientific perspective I don’t really like these panel mounts, they tend to cover up too much of the actual details of the bones, but to be fair, from the point of view of a visitor and the display aesthetics, they can be spectacular and this one certainly is.

IMG_2085Obviously a fair bit of this is not original and is reconstructed material or casts (I didn’t look close enough to check which) and most notably while there is a good skull it’s not stuck way up there. That’s obviously a good thing from a safety perspective, a fall would utterly destroy it, but what is odd is that while the skull is on display, it’s not next to the mount. Instead, it’s currently in the next gallery in the series and sits alone in a rather fetching ‘picture frame’ case with some of the museum’s other prized specimens.



Naturally those producing displays need to be mindful of a great many things and it’s understandable (if frustrating) that researchers are not closer to the top of that list. However, given the amount of Tyrannosaurus material available at the Tyrrell and just how good this looks, I have to admit, I’m pretty much giving this one a pass.

10 Responses to “Black Beauty”

  1. 1 Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. 07/06/2013 at 6:30 pm

    Just so you know, RTMP 82.6.1 has a fairly complete cranium, partial lower jaws (both dentaries, a splenial, an angular), some cervicals and dorsals (and their ribs), humerus, both sets and femora and tibiae and some distal hindlimb elements.

  2. 3 Ben 07/06/2013 at 6:49 pm

    Very pretty!

    In addition to making research harder (like you mentioned), the issue I’ve encountered with slab mounts like this is that too many visitors assume they are looking at fossils exactly as they were found, never removed from the surrounding matrix. A bit misleading, really.

  3. 5 Craig Dylke 08/06/2013 at 3:11 am

    Black Beauty’s skull used to be in a plexiglass cube beside the mounted skeleton in the Lords of the Land… However they switched it for the duo reason of aesthetics (the stupid darkly lit art gallery route, which I hate as you can’t see anything in there any more) and also safety.

    That skull is one of the famous radioactive Dinosaurs. In the back wall of that picture frame there are special vents that circulate the air to prevent the build-up of radioactivity. When they busted open the old pseudo sealed cube they had to do so with some degree of hazmat suits (while the museum was closed).due to the accumulated radiation.

    She’s hot, just not a whole lot 😉

  4. 6 Thomas Peace (author) 08/06/2013 at 9:39 pm

    She’s hot and still dangerous for sure! 🙂

  5. 7 Acleron 15/06/2013 at 7:21 pm

    As an interested onlooker I’ve learned two things from this. I certainly thought these slab mounted displays were ‘as found’. Now I wonder why they are presented this way as so much information is lost. The second surprise was radioactive fossils. What causes this?

  6. 8 Darren Tanke 27/06/2013 at 4:21 am

    David, not sure what is meant by “Naturally those producing displays need to be mindful of a great many things and it’s understandable (if frustrating) that researchers are not closer to the top of that list.” The Black Beauty skull actually shares a room with two other spectacular specimens and there is a side door to the display room to access all three mounts so researchers can in fact get at the for research. Each specimen is on wheels so it can be swung out for measurements, photography, etc. Each of these three specimens previously was in its own case and hard to access for research. Our former head carpenter suggested a common room with a side door. This light bulb moment resulted in the case existing today.

    • 9 David Hone 27/06/2013 at 8:46 am

      Hi Darren,

      that statement refers to the mount overall (and indeed this style overall) rather than just the head. I know the skull is accessible, but not everything else is (or at least appeared to be). A couple of these styles of mounts at the IVPP literally bury parts of the skeleton (the whole right side of Sinraptor’s skull for example) which is rather irritating to say the least.

  7. 10 Darren Tanke 27/06/2013 at 11:21 pm

    OK understood. Then yes the postcranial skeleton to the “Black beauty” skeleton is not easily accessible for researchers as you suggest. It is an older mount (early 1990’s) and maybe they were more worried getting it display quality for the Ex Terra show
    rather than research-accessible.

Comments are currently closed.

@Dave_Hone on Twitter


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 574 other followers

%d bloggers like this: