Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Revisiting Rehousing

Rehousing: Progress Update

After grueling semesters at various universities, several of the Summer 2009 interns living in the New York/New Jersey area are back at the AMNH lending a hand in the final stretch of the NSF Type Rehousing Project that’s terminating in March 2010.

During these last few weeks of the year the attention has been shifted entirely to rehousing the remainder of the type specimens. Although there are only a few interns, we have been able to develop a good pace. At the beginning of the first week back we were faced with roughly 200 specimens in need of rehousing, after three weeks of readjusting and mastering our hand skills with ethafoam once again we have brought this number down to 100 specimens left for completion. Judging by the progress made as well as the large amount of help to come, we are feeling quite confident that the fifth floor as well as the Type Rehousing Project will be completed by March!

There is rarely a day when we don't encounter an interesting or sometimes mysterious issue associated with a specimen.

Too many mandibles:

One of the types we came across contained a terse note reading “too many mandibles” and quick inspection revealed three mandibles housed with the rest of the specimen. A veritable scavenger hunt for information ensued and it was discovered that while all three mandibles belonged to different individuals, they all had a link to the type. One jaw was figured in the publication of the type, one was labeled with the type’s specimen number, and one was a perfect fit for the maxilla of the type. Since none could be eliminated, all were rehoused with the specimen.

While there may be excitement in the future when a researcher comes across this specimen and believes that she/he is looking at a fossil of Cerberus, there won’t be any need to spend time hunting down the publication and other relevant information, since all the evidence has now been thoroughly documented and included with the specimen in storage, in the card catalogue and in PaleoCat.

Traveling the Silk Road Exhibit:

For those of you who have been following our blog entries, you may recall the week of our tour in the Department of Exhibition. During the summer we were given a sneak preview of the Traveling the Silk Road Exhibit, where we were able to see a model designed down to the smallest detail by their team of preparators.

Fortunately the Silk Road Exhibit is now open to the public! ​As you enter the exhibit you are greeted by a caravan of camels, which happen to be the same camels that we saw in their preliminary stages during the summer.

© Traveling the Silk Road, AMNH/D. Finnin

As you wander through the four cities starting in Xi’an and ending in Baghdad, you learn about the different technologies and cultures associated with the Silk Road. The exhibit highlighted key techniques used in the tedious process of silk making, and the harvesting of silk worm cocoons. Each caterpillar cocoon is made of one continuous strand of silk which is then transferred onto a loom and woven together. These looms were so sophisticated that they could be used to create intricate designs and patterns. It was amazing to have seen the beginning stages of this exhibit, and then to have had the opportunity to enjoy the incredible final result.