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The Good, Bad and Ugly: Dismantling Historic Fossil Displays, Part Two - Digging the Fossil Record: Paleobiology at the Smithsonian

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01/08/2016

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Thanks for your question, Pete. Charles W. Gilmore, who drew the pose for the mount, wrote about it in his 1920 paper, Osteology of the Carnivorous Dinosauria in the United States National Museum, with Special Reference to the Genera Antrodemus (Allosaurus) and Ceratosaurus (a PDF can be found online). On page 114, he wrote, "An attempt was .. made to carry out the idea of a rapid walking motion and to make the other parts of the skeleton contribute to that effect. The long tail being raised clear of the ground and acting as a counterpoise to balance the weight and compensate for the swaying of the body and fore legs." Other researchers at the time seem also to have been thinking that dinosaurs did not drag their tails when moving quickly.

The Ceratosaurus was mounted with a pretty contemporary posture--with it's tail in the air and spine nearly horizontal. Does this posture really go all the way back to original mounting in 1910? It's the sort of posture we really didn't see until the 1970s. Is there any information on the forward thinking that led to the skeleton being mounted this way, so long ago?

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