As we dismantle the Fossil Halls at the National Museum of Natural History, iconic scenes familiar to millions of visitors undergo surprising and sometimes entertaining transformations. Take the pair of photos below. The top photo shows the Late Cretaceous dinosaurs Triceratops horridus and Tyrannosaurus rex facing off at the entrance to the dinosaur exhibit, with the long-necked Diplodocus, which lived earlier, during the Jurassic, looking on. The second photo shows the same scene, with the T. rex comically diminished.
Unlike the recently-arrived Nation's T. rex specimen, this skeleton is a cast, or replica. It is supported in its pose by a strong internal armature of steel rods that run up through the leg bones into the sacrum (the fused vertebrae at the hip), and there connect with other steel rods running through the centers of the tail vertebrae and the thoracic vertebrae of the "backbone." Just about everything else in the skeleton, including ribs, arms and skull, bolts onto the main sections of the armature. The following photo sequence shows how the T. rex was taken apart in preparation for its move upstairs to the Last American Dinosaurs exhibit.
Photos by Abby Telfer.