The geological nature of the dinosaur burial site

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The discoveries at Bernissart presented a huge logistic challenge in the 1870s and early 1880s. Dinosaur costume Complete skeletons of dinosaurs measuring up to 11 metres in length had been discovered at the bottom of a deep mine; they were the focus of worldwide interest at the time, but how were they to be excavated and studied?


A cooperative venture was arranged between the Belgian government, funding the scientists and technicians of the Royal Natural History Museum in Brussels, and the miners and engineers at the colliery in Bernissart. Each skeleton was carefully exposed and its position in the mine recorded systematically on plan diagrams. animatronic dinosaur supplier Every skeleton was divided into manageable blocks approximately 1 metre square. Each block, protected by a jacket of plaster of Paris, was carefully numbered and recorded on plan drawings (Figure 19) before being lifted and transported to Brussels.


Back in Brussels, the blocks were reassembled from the records, rather like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. The plaster was painstakingly removed to reveal the bones of each skeleton. Walking dinosaur costume At this point an artist, Gustave Lavalette, specially commissioned for the project, drew the skeleton in its death pose before any further preparation or extraction was undertaken (Figure 20). Some skeletons were completely extracted from the shale and mounted to create a magnificent display that can be seen to this day at the (renamed) Royal Institute of Natural Sciences, in Parc Leopold, Brussels. Other skeletons were cleared of the shale matrix on one side only and arranged in their burial pose on wooden scaffolding supporting vast banks of plaster. This display mimics their entombed positions when they were first discovered in the mine at Bernissart.

The original plans of each excavation, and some crude geological sections and sketches of the discoveries, are preserved in the archives of the Royal Institute in Brussels. This information has been ‘mined’, this time for clues concerning the geological nature of the dinosaur burial site.