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Making a new look for an old killer

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While the unveiling of the new Utahraptor exhibit at the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum took only a few seconds, it took months of patient effort to make it possible. Clockwise from bottom left, paleontologist John Bird and museum director Ken Carpeter work on the assembly of the partially-completed predator in the lab. Its posture will show it in attack, balanced on one hind leg with the other leg uplifted and ready to slash with the famous killer claw.

Assistant Casey Dooms checks out the other scimitar-like talons of the beast.

Though these and other parts of the skeleton have been sculpted from Bondo and synthetic polymer, they are based on actual bone discovered in Utah and housed at the museum. Other finds have augmented understanding of the creature, Carpenter told the audience at Saturday's unveiling.

One adjustment has been to narrow the skull. Carpenter has also stiffened the tail and added tendons to the display to demonstrate how the raptor used its tail for balance. (In the mount, the tail is nearly vertical, a necessary adjustment to allow it to fit in the lobby.

With the work done and the exhibit moved into its new home, the museum's education director Lloyd Logan hoists the sheet to unveil the work.

If all goes according to plan, the skeletons now lying down in the pit will get the same treatment.




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