Fossils: What's old is what's new at the Anniston museum
by Lisa Davis
Nov 12, 2011 | 3503 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This stegosaur skeleton gives Anniston museum visitors an idea of the immense size of the prehistoric beast. (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)
This stegosaur skeleton gives Anniston museum visitors an idea of the immense size of the prehistoric beast. (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)

That was the reaction of 2 1/2-year-old Alex Bass when he saw the new 40-foot-long stegosaurus skeleton at the Anniston Museum of Natural History. The stegosaurus is the centerpiece of the newly remodeled “Dynamic Earth” exhibit hall, which opened to the public Friday.

Alex visited the museum with his parents, Jason and Jessica Bass of Piedmont. While Alex skirted past the scary dinosaur, he made a beeline for the new fossils on display.

There are shark teeth, dinosaur teeth and a tree stump from 320 million years ago. There are bones and teeth from a mastodon and a woolly mammoth.

There are skulls from a primitive dog and a saber-tooth cat. There are rocks and bones and a meteorite that visitors can touch.

“We’ve increased the number of fossils in here a hundredfold,” said museum curator Dan Spaulding. Many of these objects have been in storage, he said, and have rarely been displayed.

Overhead in the new hall, a model of a winged pteranodon suspended from the ceiling has been cleaned. “I remember that from when I was a kid,” said Jason Bass. “It used to scare me to death.”

A model of an albertosaurus has a new paint job, going from pink to camouflage.

On display alongside the stegosaurus are the hulking skulls of two other dinosaurs, as well as a gigantic neckbone from a brachiosaurus.

The stegosaurus skeleton, which is a cast of an original skeleton in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, had been donated to the museum in conjunction with the exhibit “A T-Rex Named Sue” in 2007. It belonged to the owner of the former Dino Store in Birmingham, who had the bones stored in his basement.

After museum staff reassembled the skeleton, it was displayed in a back hall of the museum during the run of “Sue.” It was about as far from the other fossils as it could get, but there was no other place it would fit.

Last year, the museum received a stimulus-funded grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to install a solar power system. That in turn allowed the museum to renovate the “Dynamic Earth” hall and make room for the stegosaurus.

The remodeled hall now includes a touch screen that shows how the new solar panels work, including how much electricity the museum is generating and how much money it is saving on power bills.

And there’s one other new weather-related artifact worth noting: a tree limb with a piece of roofing embedded in it — a relic from the April 27 tornado that passed through Webster’s Chapel.
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