The Cincinnati Museum Center has a new thrilling exhibit awaiting its first visitors — the very rare skeleton of a Galeamopus, a long-necked herbivore from the sauropod subgroup, which roamed the Earth during the Jurassic period.
The new exhibit is making its debut to the public on May 15, after 18 years of painstaking preparations, WVXU reports.
The nearly 50-foot-long Galeamopus skeleton is 85 percent complete, which according to Glenn Storrs, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the museum, "is tremendous" in terms of dinosaur fossil discoveries.
Storrs pointed out that this Galeamopus skeleton is so incredibly rare that only two other fossils of the same species were ever unearthed.
"There are only three skeletons of this dinosaur known and this is among the best."The museum came into the possession of this unique fossil after a Montana rancher stumbled upon it in 2000.
"It was an isolated carcass in the Jurassic washed up onto a sandbar," noted Storrs.
The curator estimates that the dinosaur skeleton is 145 to 150 million years old, Fox19 reports, which means that the fossil dates back to the late Jurassic.
"We found it in isolation and most of the animal was there, most of it was articulated, so there's a lot of important anatomical information we can glean from this fossil," he explained.Before Galeamopus could finally be presented to the public, paleontologists had spent four years digging up the fossil and another seven years meticulously working on the skeleton in the lab.
"I was once told that once you collect one sauropod, you never want to collect another, and I agree," Storrs jokingly told WVXU.
"But it's really a thrill to have seen it on the ground, slowly emerging bit by bit, and then come to this point where it's available for everyone to see and enjoy," he confessed.
In the end, it took 18 years of cleaning, assembling, studying, and preserving the fossil before Galeamopus could be unveiled to the public.
But the museum is confident that Galeamopus was worth the wait, especially considering the creative manner in which the dinosaur fossil is set to make its public debut.
In order to make a full event of the big unveiling, the museum has teamed up with the Rhinegeist Brewery and plans to display the Galeamopus specimen on the establishment's taproom floor.
"This is a really exciting opportunity for us to showcase an object of this scale and nature to the public for the first time and to do it in a totally unique, remarkable way," CEO museum Elizabeth Pierce told the Norwalk Reflector.
To mark this festive occasion, Rhinegeist is brewing a special kind of Belgian Style Golden Ale called Brittlebrain. The event, which combines the best of both worlds, the opening of the exhibit and the launch of the new beer, has been dubbed Jurassic Geist.Jurassic Geist is scheduled to last until August, after which the Galeamopus fossil will be housed by the Natural History and Science Museum.
Though 18 years in the making, paleontologists are not done studying the exhibit just yet. Initially mistaken for a small species of diplodocus, another type of sauropod, Galeamopus was identified as a new species only recently, although its name was first coined in 2015.
Researchers are eager to learn more about the specimen's bone anatomy, as well as its age and gender. The skeleton's tail shows signs of an injury, which paleontologists believe could have been caused by a predatorial attack. This small detail has sparked a particular interest in Galeamopus' evolutionary history.