Friday, February 18, 2011

Saving the dinosaurs

An evolution revolution in New Haven

NEW HAVEN - The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History is one of nine recipients of a Save America’s Treasures Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, according to a statement.
The $450,000 award, one of the largest issued, will allow the museum to re-house and secure the long term preservation of the 19th century dinosaur collections from the American West of Othniel Charles Marsh, the statement said.
Among them are iconic dinosaurs Apatosaurus (“Brontosaurus”), Allosaurus, Stegosaurus and Triceratops.

"Save America’s Treasures grants support the preservation of our nation’s most significant and endangered cultural treasures," the statement said.
“These Save America’s Treasures grants will preserve the physical fabric of our history and the rich diversity of America’s story, as told by its artists, scholars, and other notable figures. These awards also honor the hundreds of volunteers, organizations, and communities whose energy and investment are ensuring that this national legacy endures for generations to come,” said First Lady Michelle Obama, who announced the grants at a ceremony in the nation’s capital, according to the statement.

O.C. Marsh, a Yale professor of paleontology from 1866 to his death in 1899 —the nation’s first— and first head of the Peabody (the title “director” not yet in use), is a major figure in the history of science and one of the founding fathers of American paleontology, the statement said.
On his death in 1899, the New York Times referred to his “marvelous achievements in paleontology,” and ranked him among the “greatest scholars and investigators” and “distinguished naturalists” of the age, the statement said.

"Marsh’s greatest legacy is the massive collection of dinosaur fossils that represents the backbone of the Peabody collections."
 “Prior to the 1870s, dinosaur specimens were rare,” Peabody Director Derek E. Briggs said in the statement. “The wealth of specimens obtained by Marsh helped to raise the profile of the group and lay the foundations of today’s public fascination with dinosaurs.”
Together with Marsh’s body of work based on them, these collections provided the fossil evidence to advance Darwin’s theory of evolution, the statement said.

Overseeing the preservation project for the Peabody will be Senior Collection Manager Dr. Chris Norris and Chief Preparator Marilyn Fox.

In the photo: 1927-vintage storage that will be replaced under the grant.

Editor's note: All information and the photo in this post are contributed.

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