Dinosaur Museums of the World

There are amazing dinosaur collections at many universities and museums; here are some of my favorite museums with dinosaurs we’ve visited.

In the early 20th century Roy Chapman Andrews led a series of expeditions into the Gobi Desert and Mongolia. He made important discoveries including the first-known fossil dinosaur eggs. He worked through the American Museum of Natural History and later became its director. Popular books of the 1950s about his life and discoveries influenced later generations of dinosaur hunters.

Explorations in China became more and more difficult, mostly for political reasons, only becoming accessible
again at the end of the 20th century. In his book, Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs, Michael Novacek describes
expeditions to Ulaan Bataar, Dalan Dzadgad, Baishin Tsav, Hurrendoch,Saynshand, the Nemegt Basin, Ukhaa Tolgod, and the flaming mountains of Gurvain Saichan. The discoveries from these expeditions have shed new light on our understanding of the animals of that age. Perhaps the best specimen is the Oviraptor buried while on its nest. We saw some of the results of these expeditions along with other Chinese findings at the natural history museum in Wuhan

In Bozeman, Montana, the Museum of the Rockies is worth a journey, as the Michellin guides would say. Its dinosaur dig crew, led by paleontologist and curator Jack Horner,(who was also science advisor to the Jurassic Park films), excavate fossils which are prepared and studied at the Museum. Some of the most famous dinosaurs in the world such as Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops, and Deinonychus (very similar to Velociraptor) are on display.

In close contention as my favorite is the Royal Tyrrell Museum at Drumheller, Alberta, Canada. Many of its exhibits were found in nearby badlands and the museum organizes family oriented tours for would be dinosaur hunters.

Those on the east coast aren’t without options. The Smithsonian in Washington DC and the American Museum of Natural History in New York have famous collections of dinosaurs, with exhibits that have been updated to show modern understandings of these behemoths. The Smithsonian includes triceratops, camptosaurus (juvenileand adult, and an allosaurus.

The 2 Peabody museums at Harvard and Yale also invite visits.. In addition to the reconstructed skeleton of Apatosaurus the dinosaur formerly known as (“Brontosaurus”) and other dinosaurs discovered and named by the Museum’s founder, O.C. Mars, the highlight of the Yale Peabody is. Rudolph Zallinger’s The Age of Reptiles. This painting, done in the Renaissance fresco secco technique, runs length of the east wall of the Great Hall. It provides a panoramic view of the evolutionary history of the earth — from the Devonian Period 362 million years ago to Cretaceous Period, only 65 mya . Based on the best scientific knowledge available at the time, there are anachronisms due to later scientific advances. The chronology of the mural reads from right to left and spanning 300 million years. The large foreground trees mark the boundaries between the geologic periods. You’ve probably seen reproductions of this painting, but The Age of Reptiles may not be reproduced without the written permission of the Yale Peabody Museum.

 

 

China – Ancient Astronomy

In the middle of modern Beijing a medieval astronomy masterwork holds its own. It’s been renamed Beijing Ancient Observatory and is on the southwest side of Jianguomen crossroad in Dongcheng District of Beijing .When I had asked our local guide about it, he said it wasn’t open anymore. Despite his assertion, I wandered the short distance from our hotel and found it both open and quite interesting.

The observatory is located on the roof level of a small building. First built under Kublai Khan a short distance away, the current observatory was completed in 1442 and used by Ming and Qing astronomers. As the Emperor was considered the Son of Heaven, the movements of the heavenly bodies were an important affair. It was taken over by Jesuits in the 1600’s and still has 8 Ming dynasty instruments on the roof – They are, according to the museum “celestial body equipment, equator theodolite, ecliptic theodolite, horizon longitude equipment, quadrant equipment, Simple Phenomena equipment, horizon theodolite ” Most interesting are the dragons and other creatures cast in bronze, that support the various pieces.

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The observatory itself is located on a 15 meter tall brick platform and about 40 x 40 square meters wide, which is actually one of the few remaining pieces of the the old Ming Dynasty city wall. Interesting in itself, it once ran around Beijing. As I entered, a guy motioned me to go up the obvious stairway to the rooftop, while another guy came up and asked if I wanted to see the astronomical instruments. Saying yes, he led me around the back where there were several replica copies (“Made from fiberglass, not original”), and then just happened to come to his shop that sold compasses and seismographs (along with an eclectic selection of jewelry, bronzes and snuff bottles.) Telling him I’d return afterwards, I went back to the stairway where the other guy was still waiting, and now yelled “UP!” in an I-told-you-so manner. Turned out he had his own shop, too, at the top of the stairs.

Instrument Purpose 
Celestial globe determine the time in which the celestial bodies will rise and set; as well as the altitude and azimuth of the bodies at any given time
Armillary sphere measures the coordinates of the celestial bodies. Constructed of two bronze disks— the ecliptic armillary tracks the sun and the equatorial armillary tracks all other bodies
Quadrant measures the altitudes and zenith locations of the celestial bodies
Theodolite measures altitude and azimuth coordinates of celestial bodies
Astronomical sextant measures the angular distance between celestial bodies
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures

 

 

On the way back to the hotel, I wandered thru small park, watching card players, bicycle repairmen and dominos games. The card game was similar to Uno and rummy, with card & run matching, but never did get all the rules. Tempo and delivery of cards varied from a casual flick to a defiant slap of a run of cards. Never seemed to affect subsequent play, though, and while there seemed to be a winner for each hand, no cumulative score seemed to be kept. Over at the dominos, similar variations in slap technique were observed, and here the loser would step out to let someone else in for the next round.  

17th century astronomy / astrology

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