There is now on exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, a skeleton of a large carnivorous dinosaur. Following the policy of the museum, Prof. Henry F. Osborn, who is responsible for this reconstruction, has departed from the traditional methods of mounting, for the flesh-eating animal is here poised as feeding upon the vertebrae of his victim, a huge brontosaurus, a herbivorous contemporary considerably larger than his carnivorous foe. These bulky, slow-moving brontosaurs, seventy to eighty feet long, without any armor or apparent means of defense, were hopelessly outclassed and probably easily overcome in battle by the fierce allosaurs. Additional interest surrounds this specimen, as large carnivorous dinosaurs are exceedingly rare. Though three or more distinct types of great dinosaurs lived at the same time and in the same region, the remains of the herbivorous ones have been the most frequently discovered, while the flesh-eating dinosaurs have been found only in a few instances. In this mount, Prof. Osborn, to whose courtesy we are indebted for much of the information here given, has scored a twofold paleontological triumph in the innovation of representing a fossil skeleton in action, and in the fact that this is the first giant carnivorous dinosaur of this type to be mounted and exhibited. In referring to the composition and departure from the customary scheme of mounting, Prof. Osborn made the following statement to the writer regarding this specimen: "Since the allosaurus skeleton was found in the same bluff as the brontosaurus, namely, the Como Bluffs of Wyoming, und not very far away, it is barely possible, although very far from being a demonstrated fact, that this very allosaurus preyed upon this very brontosaurus skeleton. However this may have been, it is absolutely sure, judging by the intervals between the tooth marks, that a certain allosaurus did prey upon this brontosaurus, and we are justified therefore in bringing the two skeletons together. It is the first time that a fossil animal has been mounted standing over its fossil prey." A vivid picture of the final scene of such a combat between the two titanic reptiles, the flesh eater and the massive "thunder saurian"brontosaurusis obtained from the accompanying reproduction of Mr. Charles R. Knight's water-color drawing, while the photograph shows the characteristic attitude given to the mounted skeleton, as well as the long string of vertebrae, pelvis, ribs, etc., of the overthrown brontosaurus, beneath the feet of the allosaurus. That the beast waged constant warfare upon, and probably put to death its other still larger herbivorous contemporaries, is shown by the finding of their bones all scored and bitten, with the teeth of allosaurus lying close by. A section of the vertebrae with the deep furrows and actual imprints made by the teeth of the allosaurus is shown in one of the accompanying photographs. In the mount the allosaurus is represented in the act of devouring the carcass of brontosaurus. The head is raised a little, and the fore limbs partly lifted in defiance-like attitude, as if to ward off other animals who might wish to share in the feast. This alert creature was built for speed and strength, as well as for fighting erect; using the very long, powerful hind 447 limbs, to advance by walking or running, in making an attack upon the most vulnerable parts, probably the throat, of the large dinosaurs. In erect attitude it is estimated the head was about twenty feet above ground. The massive hind limbs, eight feet long, with their huge claws, were well adapted to support the enormous frame and to hold down the body of its prey. The short fore limbs, three feet in length, with their immense claws, were used exclusively, it is thought, for attacking and tearing off the flesh of a victim, and not for support. The heavy tail, twenty feet long, served to balance the body. A vivid idea of the size of the enormous claws and their flesh-tearing qualities can be judged from the illustration, with the head of a man underneath, one of t h e claws being twelve inches long. The skull was three feet in length, and many of the tiger-like teeth measured three inches. This skeleton is thirty-four feet in length and eight feet three inches in height, and is one of the treasures of the famous Cope Collection, presented to the Museum by Morris K. Jesup, Esq., the president of the Museum, in 1899. The skeleton was discovered by F. F. Hubbell, a collector for Prof. Cope, in October, 1879, in the Como Bluffs near Medicine Bow, Wyoming, and not fr distant from the famous Bone Cabin Quarry, opened by the American Museum, which has yielded the greatest number and variety of dinosaurs of any one spot in the world. Here, by geological uplifts in the- distant past, the earth has been thrown into a series of great rock waves or folds. In the downfolds of these, extending to some two hundred and seventy-four feet in thickness, has been found to exist a wonderful layer of entombed dinosaurs of enormous size. The allosaurus was taken to Philadelphia, where it remained in storage in the basement of Memorial Hall. for t)ver twenty years until purchased by Mr. Jesup, who paid $50,000 for the whole collection. In 1899, after the purchase, Dr. W. D. Matthew, the Associate Curator, went to Philadelphia under instructions from Prof. Osborn, to superintend the packing and removal of the collection to the Museum. The boxes were still piled up just as they came from the West, and had never been unpacked, except in a few instances. It was thought that the Hubbell collection was not of any great value, as his letters from the field had not been preserved; and as some of his earlier collections had been fragmentary the balance was supposed to have been of the same nature. When the collection was unpacked at the American Museum, this lot of boxes, which was regarded as of little interest, was not opened until 1903. When this specimen was laid out for examination, it was recognized as a prize. Although collected by the crude methods of early days, it consisted of nearly a complete skeleton, with the bones in wonderfully fine preservation. They were dense black, hard and uncrushed, even better preserved and somewhat more complete than the few specimens of the allosaurus obtained from the Bone Cabin Quarry. By comparison and study of the three allosaurus skeletons, with assistance and details from others, the missing bones were reconstructed and the few missing parts were carefully adjusted by Dr. Matthews. Nearly four years, at intervals, were devoted to the preparation of the skeleton. The mounting was accomplished by Mr. Adam Herrman and his assistants, Messrs. Falken-bach, Lang, and Schlosser. Mr. Otto Falkenbach modeled in the missing parts. The American consul general at Cape Town, South Africa, is establishing a commercial information bureau and reading room in order to promote the sale of our goods in the surrounding region. The intention is to furnish to prospective buyers accur-a t e information with regard to the nature, quality, price, and the like, of every class of exportable commodity produced in this country. Circulars are being distributed in the territory to be covered bringing the bureau to the attention of those likely to be interested, and inviting correspondence. It is hoped that American manufacturers will take advantage of this opportunity to easily enter the rich field opened to them and that they will send to the consulate their catalogues, price lists showing wholesale and retail discounts for goods to be exported, and all other useful information that they possess. Another Eruption of Vesuvius. After two months of inactivity, Mount Vesuvius is again emitting clouds of smoke from three fissures around the old crater. Much rumbling and roaring is also heard. Because of the late earthquake in Calabria, some alarm is felt, for the great eruption of April, 1906, followed after the Calabria earthauake in 1905.
This article was originally published with the title "A Carnivorous Dinosaur: A Reconstructed Skeleton of a Huge Saurian" in Scientific American 97, 24, 446-447 (December 1907)