Friday 21 December 2007

Gordo Romps at R.O.M.

Dec 16 2007 was one of the worst snowstorms in the last 60 years here in Toronto, lotsa snow, whiteout conditions, yadda yadda. I had to go see me some dinosaurs.

In my last post, I wondered -and worried and fretted- if the Royal Ontario Museum would have the same kind of information in its new Age of Dinosaurs and Age of Mammals displays as I witnessed this past summer at the Royal Tyrrell Museum; I need not have lost sleep.

Just brilliant.

I decided not to go all the way through the Stairs of Wonder in the new Crystal at the R.O.M., and instead wanted to seek out the way in from the original second floor galleries. So I walked down a small flight, into the Age of Mammals, and there is information everywhere for the active self-educator. This was the opening weekend, and there are a few specimens lacking info-cards (some with no identification at all), but clearly they are putting the finishing touches on the displays.

For example, I was not aware that our parasaurolophus is called the halotype, the specific fossil to which all other parasaurolophus fossils are compared. Fancy that.

At right is an early mammal, an oreodont, and it looks like some predator only licked out the soft middle and left the cookie parts intact.

One of the biggest -haha- reasons for the delay in being finally prepared, has to be Gordo, the barosaurus found after being lost in the basement for the last 40 years, and hastily, carefully, accurately put on display in time for the opening. Named after the late curator Gordon Edmund who acquired him for the R.O.M., Gordo is a thrill.

Gordo the barosaurus shakes-that-thing and shows why he is called "The Moneymaker". Check out those hips baby!

At about 85 feet long, you can't actually stand back far enough in the gallery to take him in in one view without at least flicking your eyes from tailtip to dashing smile. There are videos of David Evans, the palaeontologist who rescued Gordo, discussing some of the more important fossils on the display. Perhaps my one complaint is the volume on these needs to be turned down a bit.

A great day. Excellent casts from the feathered dinosaur exhibit that toured from China a while back, and the Age of Mammals is so full of specimens and placards, you could spend a couple of hours looking at our fuzzy cousins.

A look at Gordo from outside.

At the dromeosaur display, I had to whip out my sketchbook and just start drawing. There were some fossil birds in there, wing-feather impressions clearly visible, and I just had to draw. Other itchy-finger artists out there will know what I mean: Leslie, Nancy, Jesse, and the other artists on my blogroll know what I mean! You see it, you just have to capture it. I'll refine the sketch a bit more and post it later. Perhaps after that bird gets identified.

Back into the snow, exhilarated, inspired, happy and proud of the museum I have loved my whole life. The new Crystal addition is shaping up to be grand. I paid a visit to the original facade that had me entranced so much as a child.

And so, to home.


Leslie Hawes said...

How, pray tell, does one have a dinosaur in the basement, and not notice?
What a great post. I tromped through the snow with you, and had the time of my life in the museum.

Glendon Mellow said...

Thanks Leslie!

I believe Gordo was placed in crates and drawers and sort of scattered all over. The ROM is pretty old, and this type of thing used to happen. Part of the reason for its expansion is they have much more in the back in boxes than they have on display.

Thanks for the kind words about the post. Do you even get snow where you live?

We don't usually have much snow until late January, so it was kind of exciting this year. Of course now it is mostly melted and all brown from car exhaust...

Leslie Hawes said...

I grew up with snow in New Jersey, so I know about how it gets yucky quickly from cars. We actually had a very freakish 6" snow in the Tucson valley last January. Probably won't see another one for 20 years.
I miss having the fresh snow, but after that, it's just a mess.
I could happily be accidently locked into the Museum of Natural History in New York, or the Smithsonian in Washington. Just leave food in the same place for me every night, and I would happily go museum feral...

The Key Question said...

Great post. Looking at your photos reminds me of how much I miss dinosaurs. And snow.

Will Gordo be on permanent display?

Glendon Mellow said...

Yeah, dirty snow is the downside of the pretty white stuff, isn't it Leslie? The part they seldom show in movies. Snow in Tucson? Weird. Must've been fun though.

Hi Lim; yes, Gordo is on permanent display. How warm is it where you are? I could send you some snow in a cardboard box by purolator!

traumador said...

That's the one thing I don't miss about Canada, snow! Though we still get a little bit on coastal New Zealand (the interior gets it, but not right now as we're in the middle of summer! In your faces North Americans ;p)

Yeah those sauropods have a bad habit of being to big for their own good! I'd say it's the fact they don't photograph well that keeps them from overshadowing us T-Rexs in popularity LOL

Leslie Hawes said...
Good pictures here from the ROM dino exhibit.
Because both of you are linked to my blog, I really feel as if I was there!
You may have bumped into one another... :)

Humble said...

Oh, I agree with you, it is a brilliant gallery. (Was a great storm too!) Lots of well-laid-out information and very accessible bones. Thanks for the kind comment (and thanks to Leslie for sending me over here!) I enjoy your art - I had a wonderful professor of parasitology at U of T (Professor Desser, not making that up, you may know him) who is also a painter, and his office was full of these amazing abstracted shimmering snails and fish and nematodes. It was a liberating moment - I had just switched from an arts to a science major and was struggling with my preconceived notions that I had to (for some reason) choose between my fascinations - Art and Science. I was delighted to find the Trilobite, and another person refusing to get caught in that mind trap. Cheers!

Glendon Mellow said...

Thanks, Free Range!

It is amazing how strongly people reinforce that dichotomy between art and science. I myself am somewhat guilty, since I divide my blogroll along those lines. And then sites like Eloquent Atheist and James Gurney and Fresh Brainz go and blur the lines all the time.

Art and science are certainly two different overlapping categories, and I think that is fair to say. I don't think they ae necessarily opposites though.

I'm enjoying your blog. No, I odn't know Professor Desser, but that gives me some hope too. The larger my niche audience, and potential colleagues, the better!

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