Public Seminar: Natural History Museums in a Changing World

The Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History is thrilled to welcome the seminar presenter for the Summer Research in the Sciences programme at Wesleyan – Dr. Warren D. Allmon. Aligning with our current mission of resurrecting Wesleyan’s natural history collections, Dr. Allmon was instrumental in the rejuvenation of the Paleontological Research Institution’s (PRI) internationally-known fossil collections. The Museum of the Earth in Ithaca NY is his brainchild, housing a wealth of natural history specimens in an 8,000 square feet facility. 

Natural History Museums in a Changing World

Exley SCIE58

June 14th, 2018 – Thursday

12 noon to 1.15pm

Dr. Allmon’s research primarily focuses on macroevolution and paleoecology, mainly on the molluscs  (and specifically, Gastropoda – snails) of the Cenozoic in the family Turritellidae. Dr. Allmon is currently involved in research, funded by the National Science Foundation, on comparison of evolutionary “tempo and mode” in marine gastropods from the Cretaceous of the Western U.S. and the Plio-Pleistocene of Florida. He also is involved in deciphering affinities of the problematic fossils in the Devonian rocks around Ithaca, NY. 

Pliocene marine molluscs from Sarasota, Florid in the Wesleyan museum collections. Turritellidae is one of the more well-represented groups in our collection of 5,600 seashells.

Dr. Allmon is the Director of the Paleontological Research Institution in Ithaca, NY and the Hunter R. Rawlings III Professor of Paleontology in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University.

Wesleyan collection photos courtesy of Andy Tan’21. Cover photo: Busycon carica from Rocky Neck, Connecticut. 

On Parade: Seniors Week, Reunion and Commencement

 

As the Spring comes to an end, we celebrate the fruitful school year that has passed by, once again a little too swiftly.

For us at the Joe Webb Peoples museum, nothing is more suitable for this time than to showcase the spectacular specimens that we have been restoring, as well as the exhibits we have been curating throughout the academic year 2017-2018, with overwhelming support and response from the community. In this series of blogs, we started our rediscovery of the Wesleyan collections only less than a year ago, and we look back at a year of considerable progress.

Naturally, we will start with Shelley the Glyptodon, Wesleyan’s new favourite animal. Shelley is the replica of a giant armadillo that lived in Argentina about 11, 000 years ago, fighting her friends with her spiky tail. After sixty years in the Foss Hill tunnels (her carapace, or shell), and in the penthouse of Exley (her tail), she was re-discovered and restored over the academic year. Friends of the museum have came up with this beautiful and apt name for her. Thank you all!!

 

 

We have also recently restored over 50 of the hundreds of taxidermy birds collected in the late 1800s. Meet our spectacular Resplendent Quetzal in the Fishbowl Room in Exley on 24th May 2018. This marvellous creature hails from the cloud forests of Guatemala, sporting long beautiful tail feathers male birds use to woo the ladies during breeding season. He will be on temporary exhibition just for the occasion, but will return to more permanent exhibits next year!!

 

 

The corridors on Level 3 of Exley are swimming with Plesiosaurs and Ichthyosaurs, giant marine reptiles that were marine apex predators in the Age of the Dinosaurs. Walk down the history of life as we celebrate their discoverer – Mary Anning – a woman in science who was never given credit for her discoveries during her lifetime.

 

 

The Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History  is on  Level 4 of Exley, and contains where our rarest and most spectacular specimens of rocks, fossils and minerals. Many other specimens, like the cast of  Archaeopteryx below – an early bird-relative  that lived in the Jurassic -, and a cast of a giant salamander thought to have been a human drowned in Noah’s flood have been saved from obscurity for display in our museum. Housing a collection steeped in 190 years of history, the museum is a relic of the history of Sciences at Wesleyan since its founding.

 

 

The collection used to resided in Judd Hall, from 1871 to the closure of the Former Wesleyan Museum in 1957. If you have stories to share about the Wesleyan Museum, Professor Ellen Thomas and Professor Ann Burke can be contacted at ethomas@wesleyan.edu and acburke@wesleyan.edu respectively.

 

 

 

Names of our Glyptodon

The results of our ‘name Glyptodon‘ contest are in, and she will be called:

 Shelley the Glyptodon‘.

Here we want to share the many creative and inventive suggestions made, and thank you all for participating, by suggesting names or voting for your favorite, as well as for showing your appreciation for our own Wesleyan Shelley the Glyptodon

We asked to suggest a name for our Glyptodon, as well as explain whether and why she would like that name.

A committee of five looked at the list of proposed names independently, and each person selected five names. The  names mentioned most often by the people in the committee made the short list, on which was voted. 

Ariel: Gender neutral name in Spanish; title of the most famous book ever written by a Uruguayan, José Enrique Rodo.

Amy Dillo!: She will ADORE this name. Because it is her name. I would know, because I too have spent a lot of time in the Exley basement and that’s what she introduced herself to me as.

Beetle!: Yes! Glyptodons were about the same size and weight as a Volkswagen Beetle so it is a nice reminder of how cool she is. Also, it’s adorable to call big creatures with small names. Beetles are so small and she is so big (#no_body_shame).

Big Bertha: She’s the size of a car! She ought to be honoured for her size.

Big Turtle Thing: I think it doesn’t matter to her because she has not been sentient for many years.

Boaty McBoatface: She’ll appreciate the nod towards a previous naming competition (for a research vessel). She’ll appreciate the publicity that descends upon her institution for such a quirky, creative name.

Cardina/Cardinah: Yes! Of course, it’s perfect.

  1. Wesleyan connection: it sounds very close to Cardinal, our beloved
  2. Cardo means hinge in Latin. Doors had to be taken off hinges to bring our new friend to public view
  3. Dinosaur relation: glyptodons which are described as “giant armadillos” are related to dinosaurs, hence Dina (which is close to Dino, short for dinosaur). Armadillos are sometimes referred to as “modern-day dinosaurs” because of their bony shell
  4. Dina/Dinah in Hebrew means vindicated which means show/prove to be right/reasonable. That is the purpose of fossils- they are evidence that these magnificent animals once roamed the earth

Carol: She has the wisdom and self- confidence of a 60-year-old woman with three adult children. She is strong and stern, but caring, too. She has earned our respect and deserves to be treated like the self-possessed woman that she has become.

Dorothy Larmour: Dorthy Larmour screams glamour, fun, and prestige. Who wouldn’t want to be associated with that?!

Edna: Edna = female Eddie (the Glyptodon from the movie Ice Age).

Ellen: Because it will remind this lucky Glyptodon of the efforts of her brilliant, cool creator, who has created something that the whole Wesleyan community will enjoy in the years to come!!!!! If you want the name to reflect the efforts of women in science, choose the name of a professor whose scientific work inspires Wesleyan students.

Genesis: Because she is the first to be here!

Georgette: It is sophisticated and pretty.

Gippy: Of course! Gippy wants everyone to know that she’s a glyptodon, not a dinosaur. If she could, she’d jump up and say, “yippie.”

Giuliana: It is a very popular argentinian name and argentina is one of 3 countries glyptodons have been discovered in. It also begins with a G like the species name and looking at the fossil she looks like a Giuliana

Gjerta: Of course – Gjerta means protection, and if her large shell is any indication, she certainly needs a lot of it.

Gladys the Glyptodon you Gorgeous Giggling Gal! Good Golly it’s Grand to Gaze upon you Gladys!: It’s a name that is simple, elegant, and sonically pleasing. I have no doubt she’ll love the name.

Glapys the Glyptodon: Aside from the appealing alliteration, Glapys is a pun on both the given name “Gladys” and the Latin word “lapis,” which means stone.

Gleep Gloop: Yes, it sounds like beep boop which is a fun sound noise.

Glenda! (The Glyptodon): She’s a good old gal and she’s ready to greet everyone like a friend. Glenda is a friendly good old gal name.

Glynda: Yes, because the ancient heritage of her name means good and pure, which is fitting with her stately new home in Exley.

Glynda: Glynda the Glyptadon is a wonderful name; the alliteration alone makes it worthwhile, as well as the reference to Glinda, the good witch in the Wizard of Oz. The melding of theatre and science in this name is what a Wesleyan education is all about. Glinda, like Glynda, brings joy and happiness, as well as a feeling of home; Glynda welcomes students home to scili much like the ruby slippers bring Dorothy home to Kansas. Also like Glinda, Glynda maintains her beauty and grace despite having lived much longer than anyone would have expected. This name would pay homage to a very powerful magic heroine, and after all, magic is really just science in the end.

Glynis (full name: Glynis the Glitch): Yes, definitely. The name reminds everyone of who she is and how she came to be (again) at Wes: Glynis is simply the only good name for a Glyptodon (Glynis comes from good, even holy, is the only name that starts with “gly,” and is a bit old- fashioned like the Glyptodon that she is). And “the Glitch” is the only good “last” name for a lost Glyptodon who was found by chance, and with a “slight” glitch (no head). Glynis loves that her name captures her identity, her history, and her quirky yet old-fashioned personality.

Glypta the Good Witch: Yes!! It will make her feel both pretty and powerful, and remind her daily that she is good, which is a hard thing to remember for anyone.

Glypto-Rhonda: She will love her name because she chose it! You see she’s a fighter. She’s been taking a break from the ring for the past 10,000 or so years. But now she’s back and ready to get back in the spotlight! She actually chose this name after she was watching some old fights (for training purposes) and came across a fighter with fire in her eyes. She believes Ronda Rousey deserves the belt and Glypto-Rhonda has proclaimed that she’s gonna win it in her name! Get ready to see her whip her opponents tails, with her own! Glypto-Rhonda’s back in the game!!

GlyptoBae: Yes!! She is the collective bae of our entire school- a friend, lover, confidante, leader to all. She is a Glyptodon, but she is OUR GlyptoBae.

Glyptodonatella: The Glyptodon is well-travelled. She has a love for multi-syllable names. She is fierce and deserving of an equally fierce name.

Glyptodon McGlyptodonface: Who wouldn’t love this name?

Glyptomaniac: Modeled after the word kleptomaniac, which describes a person with irresistible urges to steal, this name is appropriate because she has yet to fail to steal my heart or the hearts of those around me. Mesmerizing. Iconic. Glyptomaniac.

Groovy Tooth: She’s been called “glyptodon” in the past, for her grooved (Greek: glyptos) teeth (dont). After awakening from decades of slumber, I’m sure she felt just a little left behind. Who wouldn’t, when surrounded by strange phrases like “that’s lit, man” and “rad, bro”? Therefore, I’m sure updating her name to “Groovy Tooth” would would help her feel a stronger sense of belonging at the new Wesleyan, while still preserving the essence of her original name.

Guiomar: I have been thinking of names for our beloved Glyptodon. After some research I see that the glyptodon originates from South American countries, often times from places where Portuguese is spoken. I looked into some Portuguese names and I found the Unisex name “Guiomar” — unisex because since we don’t know it’s specific biological gender. Guiomar (pronounced Gee-o- mar) is the name of a famous war hero. I think that is fitting for our glyptodon who has survived a type of war itself; and emerged a celebrity hero for all to bow down to!!! Source; https://www.behindthename.com/name/guiomar  Other definitions of Guiomar describe someone who enjoys the freedom to do as they please, loathes restriction, and loves to be the center of attention! I find that quite fitting as well.

Gwendolyn: Yes I think she’ll love it because it’s a name full of character–just like her! We can call her Gwen (Stefani) for short. The name reflects her star quality.

Gyna: Yes because is close to her species name.

Jeff: All good things are named Jeff.

Joni Mitchell: I think she will love it or at least she would if she heard Joni Mitchell sing California. Beautiful song.

Karen: No, because no one loves being named Karen, they just are.

Lulu: Yes, she will love the name. It rolls off the tongue, “Lulu the Glyptodon.” Plus it really fits her personality. In addition it’s a somewhat gender neutral name, and it is a variation on lolo, which would be too near to “armadillo” which glyptodons are related to.

Mary Shelley (fondly just Mary): I think she will love the name because it speaks to her physique (she has a shell) and her style (she’s a classy lady). She also is a fossil that has been put back together again, with some missing/replacement parts, and I think she’d appreciate the allusion to Mary Shelley’s infamous novel, Frankenstein.

Lionturtle: The lion turtles are ancient beings that gave humans the power to control elements. This allowed them to venture deep into the spirit wilds. Many years ago a man named Wan ventured to four separate lion turtles to collect the powers of the four elements: water, earth, fire, and air. Thus began the cycle of the Avatar. In more recent history, a lion turtle taught avatar aang how to non violently strip a bender of their powers. Because of this awesome power, avatar aang successfully stopped the imperial campaign of the fire nation without taking Phoenix King Ozai’s life. I believe the Glyptodon represents a similar power to the Wesleyan community. Only she doesn’t give us the power of bending — she gives us the power of friendship.

Maya: Maya is a very fun name. It’s playful, spunky, full of zest—just like our friendly neighborhood Glyptodon. The name Maya  invites us to create nicknames: MyMy, Mypie, MayaPapaya, and  many more. In Hindu tradition and philosophy, the name Maya has significance as a reference  to mystical powers, similar to the mysterious aura that the fossil emits. Maya is a strong name, suitable for a strong Glyptodon!.

Mishell Oldmama: Yes – to be linked to a powerful person in history as Michelle Obama would be a privilege!

My Cherie Armour: It bespeaks of her inner beauty, and attractiveness.

Noodle: My sister’s dog is named Noodle and she’d be thrilled to know there’s a Glyptodon named after her..

Ozzy: It’ll be short for Ozbourne the Odd Born and she’ll love the pride it gives to her uniqueness and individuality!

Pleistocene Pam: She’ll fondly recall how she flourished between the Pliocene and Holocene epochs

Richael Moth: Yes, because she is the heart and soul of Wesleyan University and deserves to give the commencement address every year.

Rita Goode: First name derived from Emerita, the highest title given to female faculty by recognizing a lifetime of scholarship and impact on learners. Last name honors the first curator of Wesleyan’s Museum of Natural History: George Brown Goode, class of 1870.

Rolly-Poley: She will adore the name so much that when we yell “Come here Rolly-Poley,” she will roll into an enormous ball of cuteness..

Scary Mary “Shelly”: Duh, because she is monstrous and scary.

Selena: You know..

Shangela (so we’d scream halleloo): Every time you pass the Glyptodon, do you ever scream “halleloo”? Is that just me? I swear I can hear someone else saying it when I sit in SciLi. Our Glyptodon – just like Shangela from RuPaul’s Drag Race – has charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. She oozes confidence that it takes to become America’s next fossil superstar. Her camp exudes success over her minions throughout Wesleyan. It is only appropriate then we name her after America’s Number 1 drag talent, as they both share all these attributes. They set examples of what a Wesleyan student should achieve to be and have persevered after all these seasons.

Shelley: Yes because it will make her feel powerful and safe.

“Shelly” Long, long ago: She’s likes to binge watch old Cheers episodes.

Shelley: It is a name with which she can relate and identify in very personal ways. In other words, she can see herself in that name. Moreover, it’s a name that rolls off one’s tongue and, if she doesn’t like it, it will equally roll right off her back..

Shellie: I think she will absolutely love her name! She has a beautiful, eye- catching shell and we should all let her know. It’s also a fun and playful name, reflecting her whimsical and free-spirited nature. I honestly don’t think any other name would sit right.

Shelly: Shelly is a very motherly name, showing her protectiveness of her young Glyptodons. Also her large shell makes her recognizable by name.

Spike X Lee: Absolutely! It rejects gender normative naming conventions and acknowledges both her awesomeness and the building she lives in (X Lee = Exley).

Snorlax: Yes! Glyptodon is part of the superorder of placental mammals known as Xenarthra. This clade of mammals also includes sloths, which I believe Snorlax is modeled after. It is presumed large glyptodonts were bulk feeders, as is Snorlax. The Glyptodon and Snorlax share many physical similarities, such as their round shape, feet with three claws, slow movements, and pronounced jaw structure. In addition, the Glyptodon’s appearance of waking from a long slumber fits perfectly with Snorlax’s reputation for being a heavy sleeper. Snorlax is known for being very docile and friendly, and I believe that if Wesleyan’s Glyptodon adopted a name associated with the adored Pokemon creature, then many students will come to love the Glyptodon and become fans of it in a similar way. It’s a fun name that will get the Wesleyan community involved, and I believe Snorlax perfectly captures the character and personality of our Glyptodon.

Sunnyside!: She will love the name because when I looked up pictures of glyptodons I was struck by how much they are like big, happy eggs! If not Sunnyside, we should definitely call her by some other egg-related name– it’s just too fitting, given the huge rounded shell! I chose this name specifically because it is a positive, nice sounding name that fills you with warmth.

The Glyper: Its unique-ish; Win one for the glyper!.

Volkswagen Beetle: She is dead, she can’t think. I didn’t become an archaeology student because I wanted to deal with things that are alive!!! But we will love her.

Willburina: at first she may be concerned about its unusual nature, but when she realizes there are no others of her kind around to make fun of it, she will be fine.

Xena!: You bet she will. The Glyptodon’s superorder, under scientific classification, is Xenarthra, which means “strange joints.” Their vertebral joints have extra articulations unlike other mammals. Xena’s carapace also looks like Xena the warrior princess’s armor. That Xena, according to Wikipedia, used her “formidable fighting skills to help people.” Will this Xena help people? You betcha! (She’s already helped me by making Wes a more inviting place to be. I’m not exaggerating when I say visits to her, and bringing friends to see her, got me through midterms.) Additionally, Xena comes from the Greek “xenos,” which translates to “stranger.” Poor girl has been missing from Wes’s collections for a while. So much has changed since she last saw the WesWorld. She’s a stranger in a strange land. But she’s back, like any great warrior princess, to claim her name and prove her badassery.

 

 

The Wesleyan University Ward & Howell Collection and Its Impact on the History of Science

We are excited to welcome Melanie McCalmont to Wesleyan.

Melanie McCalmont is a geographer and data scientist. She has a Master’s degree in Geography, and a Master’s degree in Life Science Communication, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Melanie is the national expert on historic 3-dimensional relief models. She has been a relief model consultant to the Library of Congress, Yellowstone National Park, the Chicago International Map Fair, American Geographic Society Library, the MacLean Collection, and numerous universities and private collectors. She is a frequent speaker on the Ward’s Natural Science collections and the history of geovisualization.

Her book, “A Wilderness of Rocks: The Impact of Relief Models on Data Science” (2015) is available through Friesen Press and on Amazon.

Melanie is visiting the Earth & Environmental Sciences Department for in the week of April 16-23 April, to study its historic relief maps, as part of her research for her upcoming book, a biography of Edwin E. Howell, a master maker of relief maps as well as fossil casts, and one of the group of people who installed the Wesleyan fossil casts in the Judd Hall Museum of Natural History in 1870.

She will talk about the Wesleyan collections on Thursday, April 19, 11:50am-12:50 pm, in Room 405, Exley Science Center, Wesleyan University. Lecture open to the public.

The Wesleyan University Ward & Howell Collection

and Its Impact on the History of Science

Abstract:

Wesleyan University has a rare and historic asset of 19th century natural science specimens and geologic relief models. The supplier, Ward’s Natural Science, was a driving force behind establishment of most US natural history museums from 1865-1915.  Using primary sources (diaries) from 1870-1871, this presentation describes how Wesleyan’s collection was crafted, installed at Judd Hall, and along with other Ward specimens had a lasting impact on education and the public since 1870. We will also cover Wesleyan’s historic geologic relief models (3D maps). Crafted before aerial photography and space imagery, these models were the first accurate geovisualizations of government datasets, and have surprising links to modern technologies. Today’s researchers are mining these historic collections to create new insights and even discover new species!

Unseen Wesleyan: Penthousing

The labyrinth of tunnels beneath the carefully manicured landscape of Wesleyan has inspired the imagination and indulgence of many generations of students. There is always something about the Forbidden that beckons.

 

One of the pieces you pick up; profound life quote from a concerned well-meaning trespasser, perhaps after one too many Bloody Marys. Photo courtesy of Andy Tan ’21.

Yet there is one secret that our campus holds to which many may not be privy to. Above Level 6 of Exley Science Centre lies a Penthouse, where lies a large swathe of treasures, and other glamorous junk. Professor Ellen Thomas affectionately coined the term “penthousing”, meaning the activity of purging the space of decade-old decaying items, in search of the next star exhibit.

A significant portion of the former Wesleyan Museum’s collections were flung into the Penthouse of Exley upon its completion in 1970, while others continued to collect dust in the Foss Hill tunnels since the museum’s resolution in 1957. In the summer of 2017, students working on the inventory of museum objects first started to look around that penthouse, and found the first evidence for the existence of our Glyptodon – its tail.

 

Lost meandering down the hallways of reminiscences. How many chapters of Wesleyan history do these halls keep? Photo courtesy of Andy Tan ’21.

The interesting thing about unseen spaces is that people who have access to them often put very little effort into making them presentable. In the penthouse lies a ludicrous number of expensive old scientific equipment in what some of the museum Inner Circle calls “Scientific Purgatory” – atoning for the sins of being outdated in hope of exodus some day in future. These include a sonar imaging device, x-ray tubes, and distillation contraptions – any brewers out there?

Even so, the Penthouse is chock full of other little treats, and some not-so-little ones. We found by a bit of an accident, a beautiful skull that belonged to some kind of elephant relative. The identity of the animal that had it is still a mystery to us. Some are whispering about how it looks suspiciously similar to the skull of a baby Mastodon, especially in view of its teeth – we’ll keep you posted. Stay tuned.

 

The Penthouse of Exley is one of the many hidden storage spaces of treasures at Wesleyan. Recently, a gorgeous elephant skull came out of storage in Shanklin. Note the flat-topped teeth used for grinding. Photo courtesy of Andy Tan ’21.

 

Cover photo: Cage lock and stray crates in the Penthouse of Exley. Andy Tan ’21.

 

Name Our Glyptodon Contest

Waking from a 60 year-old torpor, our Glyptodon no longer remembers her name. Nevertheless, she would love to hear you call her each time you walk by, so do come up with an exciting name that she will love! The contestant who nominated the chosen name will win a genuine fossil from Wesleyan’s 190 year-old natural history collection. CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE CONTEST! More information below.

SCAN THE CODE BELOW TO JOIN!

The biological sex of our Glyptodon cannot be determined by looking at her remains. In honour of the hidden women figures in science (and a tradition practised by Sir David Attenborough), we will assume that our Glyptodon was female.

We are looking for a name that reflects her natural history, archaeological interest, and unique identity as a Wesleyan resident, in addition to any other important and fun aspects you may think of. Get creative!

The nomination process will be online until 2359 hours on April 8th, 2018. A committee consisting of 5 members of faculty, students and staff will then shortlist a number of appropriate entries for voting. The shortlisting process is anonymous.

A public vote will be run from the 11th through 25th, of April 2018, and will be accessible with the same QR code. Keep an eye out for it and get your friends to vote for your proposed name!

BON CHANCE!

Visit by Dr. Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

We are very excited to announce a visit to Wesleyan by

Dr. Kirk Johnson

Sant Director,  National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

Dr Johnson will give a public lecture:  

Natural History in the Age of Humans.

The lecture is scheduled for 1 March 2018, 7:30 pm, in room Shanklin 107, and will be followed by a reception in the Woodhead Lounge at 8:30 pm.

 

Natural history museums represent a fundamental tool to understand and preserve Earth’s natural and cultural heritage. The public perception of museums as educational experiences masks their deeper value to human society as the creators and keepers of our knowledge of the natural and cultural world. With a rapidly growing world population, food insecurity, infectious diseases, and invasive species are problems that may find their solution in the genomics of biodiversity housed in museum collections. Minerals, meteorites, and fossils are the physical evidence of the planet’s history, climate, biological evolution, and resource base. In an increasingly digital era, museums are one of the last bastions of the real thing.

Dr. Johnson oversees more than 440 employees and a collection of more than 145 million objects—the largest natural history collection in the world. Kirk Johnson is a paleontologist who has led expeditions in 11 countries and 19 states that resulted in the discovery of more than 1,400 fossil sites. His research focuses on fossil plants and the extinction of the dinosaurs. He is known for his scientific articles, popular books, museum exhibitions, documentaries, presentations, and collaborations with artists to reconstruct ancient ecosystems. In 2010-11, he led the Snowmastodon Project, the excavation of an amazing ice age site near Snowmass Village, Colorado. This dig recovered more than 5,400 bones of mammoths, mastodons and other ice age animals and was featured in the NOVA documentary, Ice Age Death Trap, and in Johnson’s book, Digging Snowmastodon: Discovering an Ice Age World in the Colorado Rockies. His latest book, Ancient Wyoming, explores the prehistory and geology of the Bighorn Basin.

For Wesleyan, it is especially exciting to welcome Dr Johnson, because he is the present occupant of the position first held by the man who started his museum career as the first curator of the Wesleyan Museum of Natural History and the son in law of Orange Judd, ichthyologist George Brown Goode.

By that time, we hope to also celebrate the return to public life of Wesleyan’s cast of Glyptodon, as discussed in several earlier blogs. She will be exhibited in the lobby of Exley, between the entrance to the Science Library and Tischler Hall. 

 

 

 

More Glyptodon..as well as other visitors from the penthouse

We made some headway with the Glyptodon restoration: the tail was once more fixed to the carapace, and repairs were made to its internal structure =.

Then we cleaned Glyptodon. Now we still have to fill in a few damaged spots (see white spot in left image), and probably provide a new coat of paint. In the mean time, work has started to build a new platform for display. We are still working on deciding its new location, probably somewhere on the ground floor  in Exley. Sadly, we have not (yet) been able to locate the missing skull and foot despite major reorganization, removal of garbage, and sorting through items in the penthouse of Exley.

We did move down some more casts from the penthouse: two ichthyosaurs, two plesiosaurs, and a mosasaur. We are working on getting them out of their crates, cleaning them and doing minor repairs. We hope to mount them on the walls, third floor Exley.

    

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The Glyptodon – more news and pictures

The Glyptodon carapace (see earlier blogs for more background information on the Wesleyan Glyptodon) was partially unpacked, so we could for the first time since 1957 inspect it – still in pretty good shape. It needs cleaning from 60 years of dust accumulation, some restoration, a new coat of paint, and re-attachment of the tail. We still have not yet found the skull/jaw and foot that were present in its glory days, but are still looking for them in the penthouse, as well as looking to see whether we could replace them if they cannot be found. Then we need to rebuild its pedestal.

The Glyptodon as seen from the front (upper) and back (lower) in its glory days, when it was displayed in the Orange Judd Museum of Natural Sciences, before 1957. Note the skull and hind left foot present, and the armored tail visible from the rear.

 

Copy of 1876 advertisement by Ward, dated 1876, in which he names ‘the Wesleyan University of Middletown, Conn.’, as having purchased a number of his ‘Casts of celebrated Fossils’.

The Glyptodon carapace (in the back) and its tail (in crate in front) reunited in the same room instead of being in the penthouse of Exley Science Center and the tunnels under Foss Hill, probably for the first time since 1957. The second picture shows the carapace in side view (head-end to the left), showing white spot where carapace has been damaged. Third picture: the carapace seen from the rear, with opening for the tail attachment (metal bracket visible), as shown in more detail in the next picture. The fifth picture shows the detail of the front of the carapace, where the skull should be attached, and the last picture shows the surface of the carapace, covered in dust but still in good shape.

The Glyptodon – continued

Today we finally moved the crate with the plaster cast of the Glyptodon body-skeleton (see earlier blogs) from the tunnels underneath Foss Hill to the machine shop at the ground level of Exley. The name Glyptodon was given by Richard Owen (1839), who was the first to realize that a number of fossils described as separate animals were, in fact, all part of the same animal, a now extinct giant armadillo. Glyptodons were South American mammals, and the original fossil of which ours is a cast was found in Argentina in 1846, and is now in a museum in Dijon, France. The casts were sold by Ward’s Scientific Company of Rochester, NY, founded by Henry A Ward (1840-1906), and Wesleyan obtained one for the Judd Hall Museum of Natural History in the 1870s (it cost then $150.-).

 

Picture and text from Ward’s catalog (the Glyptodon was nr 36).

 

The Glyptodon in the Orange Judd Museum of Natural History [credit Wesleyan’s Special Collections & Archives].
We could get a better view of it, and noted that the internal structure with the legs supporting the body carapace were still intact.

 

Pictures of the Glyptodon in its crate, now in the Exley machine shop. Left: view from underside of carapace; Second left: detail of support legs; Third: detail of label and surface of carapace; Fourth: detail of carapace.