David Brady Shared The Love!

David Brady Shared The Love!
“Expressing Our Inner Maya!”
Photo by David Brady, winner of the HMNS Share The Love contest!
See the other fun, funny & touching photos that were submitted!

Congratulations to David Brady, who took the above photo during a “Mayan-themed” visit to HMNS and then uploaded it to our recent Share The Love contest!

David Brady Shared The Love!
Congratulations, David!

David and his family were the recipients of a 15-month membership to HMNS – meaning they’ll have the opportunity to be among the first visitors to our new paleontology hall when it opens Summer 2012!
Here’s what David had to say about the photo:

“On this day, we started our visit by creating Maya art (including this mask) with the help of Museum volunteers. Then, we took in the “2012: Mayan Prophecies” show in the Burke Baker Planetarium. Finally, we toured the Museum’s pre-Columbian collection of artifacts & art. I’m fortunate to have a daughter that enjoys both fun & learning, because the HMNS provides plenty of both – it feeds both your heart and your head.”

Congratulations to David and thank you to everyone who participated!

Want to be one of the first to see the new Paleontology Hall?

Join or renew your membership now and get three extra months free!

HIPS HIPS HURRAY! [Dimetrodon Fossil Update]

Your HMNS field crew and lab staff score the missing pelvis!

Willie the Dimetrodon continues to command the attention of your Paleo Dept. personnel. In May through June, David Temple led an intrepid crew who gently lifted the plaster jacket containing Willie’s torso, shoulder and rump. Local ranchers Donny Gale and Gary Max Coltharp once again generously donated their time and machinery – especially useful was the Coltharp front-loader named “Lola.”

But still – though Willie is among the very finest D’dons anywhere, he had a pelvic deficit. Check out this hip diagram.


Willie’s sacral ribs are there, the parts of the vertebral column that hold the hips. However, the hip bones themselves are still missing. Probably some hungry scavenger came by and bit these meaty bits off (one rib was twisted out of place too  and the lower left shoulder had some bite marks).

“Locality Edge” comes to the rescue. Discovered by a local science teacher four years ago, Locality Edge is an awesome outcrop of badlands, full of tortuous arroyos, box canyons and spires of red rock. The strata here are just a bit later than our Craddock Bone Bed and about a mile away. We removed a pelvis and set it in a drawer.


We did note that this set of pelvic bones was unusual – the shape was not distorted by the tons of rock that had buried it. Most of the time the burial layers flatten out natural curves of the upper bone, the ilium, and the wide lower bones, pubis & ischium. The Edge pelvis miraculously survived 285 million years under the rock layers. The lower bones kept the strong inward curve that the living animal had.


The thought erupted in our minds: Could the Edge pelvis fit our Willie? Was it big enough??

Was it the correct species? We took the pelvis out of its museum tray and I brought it to the small but excellent prep lab at the Morrison Museum in Colorado (located a short drive from the famous Coors Brewery). The Morrison Museum generously opens its facilities for special Houston projects. Thirty hours of work later, with the assistance of three delicate pneumatic chisels, the outer form was cleaned of the rock (note the specimen in the skilled hands of a Morrison volunteer at right).

Superb!  And  when the inner surface of the ilium was placed next to Willie’s sacral rib, they clicked together precisely.  The size was perfect. So was the shape – the Edge specimen clearly came from the same species and the same body size.

Now, the pelvis is getting its final beauty-treatment at the skilled hands of volunteers at the Houston Museum prep lab.

Thus the contributions of a dozen volunteers and staff, plus two labs, has taken us one step further in getting Willie up on his feet, to delight and instruct  HMNS visitors.

Parties at HMNS Rock! [Pun Intended]

The runaway success of the Night at the Museum movies shows people’s fascination with what goes on around the T. rex after the Museum closes its doors. More often than not – it’s a party! And we have a department dedicated to managing events that take place here at the museum, from weddings in the Cockrell Butterfly Center to out-of-this-world events in our Planetarium.

Leslie and Nancy are starting a new series on the blog to give you insight into what makes a great party – not just here at the museum, but wherever you might choose to throw one.

To introduce you, we asked them a few questions about what it’s like to plan an event where dinosaurs are typically in attendance.

You’re the Museum’s event coordinators. What exactly does that mean?

L: We handle some of the Museum’s internal events such as Big Bite Nite and VIP nights for exhibit openings. We also work with individuals and corporations that want to rent the Museum for private events. Specifically, our tasks include site visits with clients to help determine the right space for their event, putting them in contact with our caterers and coordinating details between the client, caterers and Museum staff.

N: Basically we work with clients who want to rent out the Museum for a corporate or individual event from start to finish.  Typically that involves gathering details about the event, recommending a venue within the Museum, going over pricing and policies, leading site visits, filing contracts, collecting payments, coordinating with the caterer, and managing the event.

What kind of events do people host here at HMNS? 

L: People host all sort of events here, from corporate dinners and client appreciation events to wedding ceremonies/receptions and bar/bat mitzvahs.

What’s the neatest thing someone has done to make an event at the Museum unique?

L: The Museum is such a unique place that our clients are always coming up with creative ideas to enhance their event. I have seen some  really great themed events in the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals. For example, one client turned the Gem Hall into a swanky lounge and had a signature drink with rock candy that looked like the gem and mineral pieces. They also gave out diamond shaped paperweights engraved with the company’s name as favors.

N: Just the venue in itself is very unique.  Not everyone can say they have dined and danced with dinosaurs or had an elegant dinner next to some of the most stunning gems and minerals in the world or gotten married in a lush indoor tropical rain forest with butterflies fluttering over their heads.

Is planning events in such a large, diverse venue a challenge?

L: It is actually the diversity of the space that makes the Museum an attractive event venue. We have noticed that the one thing that unifies our clients is that they all want something different. Also, because the Museum is not a traditional space like a hotel ballroom there can be some challenges in planning an event here. It certainly helps to have experienced vendors working in the space. Our caterers and their staff do a fantastic job at setting up and working around any challenges.

N: Actually the size and diversity of the venue works to our favor.  The Museum can handle events from 20 to 2,000 guests and the variety of exhibits makes a great backdrop for any event.  

What kinds of things can readers expect from your upcoming posts?

L: You can definitely expect some info on the latest event trends and how to apply those trends to events at the Museum. Because we know that planning events can sometimes be a little overwhelming, we’ll also provide some practical tips and tools on how to organize and execute your event successfully.

N: Our upcoming posts will include event tips and trends, fresh ideas, and the benefits of hosting an event at HMNS.

Ankylosaurs aren’t very aerodynamic*

But they can still fly!

Ankylosaur Flying! [1.21.11]
Quite a view! See the entire set from the move on Flickr.

If you’ve never seen a dinosaur fly, then you weren’t in the vicinity of the museum around 11 am last Friday – at which time it was almost impossible to miss our airborne ankylosaur.

Pretty cool! The ankylosaur – an original created for the 1964 World’s Fair – has been a much loved part of our paleontology hall for decades. As part of the ongoing construction associated with our current expansion, the ankylosaur – along with several other displays from the hall – was de-installed and will be stored until it re-emerges in our new paleo hall in 2012!

Carolyn recorded this video – it’s amazing how fast this big guy hopscotched over our entire new wing!

More on the Ankylosaur!

HMNS Flickr Set“Warwick Towers Survive Dinosaur Attack” on Swamplot | Flickr set from allison362

*Excellent point, via twitter from @laelaps