Friday, July 22, 2016

South Dakota School of Mines Museum of Geology

Recently completed a field camp course hosted by the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. There were many magnificent sights to see out there in Wyoming and South Dakota, but having to regularly scramble up and down rock outcrops did not encourage the use of my good camera. Additionally, photography tends to take a backseat when you are being graded for your field work, the net result being that I only have a handful of relatively low-quality photos from field camp proper. However, once the course was done, I got the chance to visit SDSMT's own Museum of Geology, at which I was free to be more shutter-happy. Despite the small size of the display area, the museum's collection was quite impressive. It was also nice to see an exhibit on conservation paleontology.

A row of skulls showcases the evolution of that iconic North American megabeast, the American bison.

Most of the specimens displayed here were discovered at local fossil sites (some of which we worked at during field camp). Here is a skull of the nimravid Hoplophoneus with a painful-looking bite mark.

Smilodon compared to living cats, including (clockwise from top left) a house cat, a bobcat, a clouded leopard, and a mountain lion.

More Hoplophoneus skulls.

This is a specimen that had to travel some ways to get here, a juvenile Mauisaurus.

The centerpiece of the museum was a mount of another plesiosaur, Styxosaurus. It was so big that it was essentially impossible to fit it all in one shot.

The skull of Archaeotherium, a hell pig (but not really a pig).

The foot of the hornless rhino Subhyracodon.

The skull of Subhyracodon.

Protoceras, a member of an extinct radiation of North American artiodactyls with bizarre headgear.

How many universities have their own Tyrannosaurus rex?

A Mosasaurus mount. Spot the palatal teeth!

The skull of the amphicyonid Daphoenus.

A glass case showcased brontothere sculptures by Charles Knight.

A partial skeleton of an Oligocene snake.

A full-body mount of Archaeotherium.

Leptomeryx, a small ruminant.

An oreodont mounted with unborn young in its womb.

A gomphothere skull.

The brontothere Brontops.

Ah, a maniraptor! Procrax, a fossil cracid fowl.

A mount of Edmontosaurus (or is it Anatosaurus?).

Glad that they acknowledged that the mount is in an outdated posture.

Should be "femora"!

The skull of Triceratops.

Mosasaur stomach contents.

Considering the ubiquity of cannibalism among modern carnivores, "mosasaurs probably were NOT cannibalistic" is a bold claim to make.

A partial skull of the mosasaur Hainosaurus.

Mesosaurus, not a mosasaur.

There was a screen playing Valley of the T-Rex [sic]. Ehh.