After 18 years of uncovering, cleaning, studying and preserving, a rare dinosaur skeleton is ready to be seen by the public for the first time. The Cincinnati Museum Center's newest exhibit, a Galeamopus, is one of just three to ever be found.
It was discovered in 2000 by a rancher in Montana who alerted researchers with the Cincinnati Museum Center. They spent four years excavating the nearly 50-foot-long specimen and another seven doing work in the lab.
"It's an 85 percent-complete skeleton, which is tremendous for finding a dinosaur," says Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology Glenn Storrs. "It was an isolated carcass in the Jurassic washed up onto a sandbar, so we found it in isolation and most of the animal was there, most of it was articulated, so there's a lot of important anatomical information we can glean from this fossil."
Galeamopus is a type of sauropod, or long-necked dinosaur. It was an herbivore during the Jurassic period that would have eaten ferns and other plants. The name Galeamopus was created in 2015, but it was given to fossilized remains found in 1902 that had been thought to be a small species of Diplodocus.
"Recently, scientists analyzed that specimen and determined it's not Diploducus, it's something new, hence the new name appeared," Storrs says. "There are only three skeletons of this dinosaur known and this is among the best."
Scientists are still researching and learning from the fossilized remains. They aim to learn more about the anatomy of various bones, the dinosaur's age and gender, and the animal's evolutionary history, especially since the skeleton's tail shows signs of an injury, possibly an attack by a meat-eating dinosaur.
For Storrs, it's exciting to see 18 years of work come to fruition. "I was once told that once you collect one sauropod, you never want to collect another, and I agree," he says with a laugh. "But it's really a thrill to have seen it in the ground, slowly emerging bit by bit, and then come to this point where it's available for everyone to see and enjoy."
Galeamopus is on display into August at Rhinegeist Brewery as part of the Curate My Community initiative. The brewery created a special beer called "Brittlebrain" for the occasion. Part of the proceeds will go to the Cincinnati Museum Center.
Once the so-titled Jurassic Geist display is finished, Galeamopus will move into the new dinosaur exhibit in the Natural History and Science Museum. There it will be joined by the museum's existing Allosaurus and four other "major dinosaur skeletons" that have also never been displayed before, according to Storrs.
See more images of this rare find by clicking the photo at the top of the page.