Sea Dragon Skull goes on Summer Holiday

Posted on by Alice Bush.

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery says “see you soon!” to our 180 million-year-old Temnodontosaurus Skull.

Visitors with keen eyes may have spotted a group carrying a large and heavy box out of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery on Wednesday 14 June. This was not an Indiana Jones-style heist, but a painstaking effort by skilled conservators, curators and scientists to safely relocate an incredible specimen over the summer months.

Mary Anning’s Temnodontosaurus skull has been part of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery’s collections since 1845. It was one of few specimens to survive the WWII bombing of our previous site (today’s Browns), and has been kept in storage for decades due to its complex conservation needs.

Plesiosaurus specimen on display in 1935.

Photographed on display in 1935, below the specimen of ‘Plesiosaurus’ megacephalus (Stutchbury, 1846), now Atychodracon megacephalus (Smith, 2015) which was destroyed during WWII bombing.

Bristol Museums Development Trust is proud to be funding the launch of an exciting project which hopes to bring this 180 million-year-old sea dragon ‘to life’ again for our visitors.

Deborah Hutchinson, Curator of Geology (Natural Sciences) at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, says:

This project has been a dream of ours for so long, it is wonderful to finally have it underway. We hope to unlock this amazing story for our visitors to enjoy and inspire the scientists of the future through Mary Anning’s legacy.

Large skull resting in a box in storage.

Mary Anning’s Temnodontosaurus skull in storage at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery.

Along with conservators David Singleton and Amelie Drewdun, Deborah’s team safely sent the Temnodontosaurus skull away on its summer holidays with conservator Nigel Larkin, who will be undertaking the highly skilled conservation and mounting work.

Thank you to our supporters who enable vital conservation work to take place, ensuring the long-term survival of this wonderful fossil. Your donations can unlock these amazing objects for everyone to learn from and enjoy.

Four members of the Bristol Museum team stood at the back on a lorry.

A job well done – the specimen is ready to go! Pictured left to right: Nigel Larkin, Deborah Hutchinson, David Singleton and Amelie Drewdun.

We look forward to updating you on the project’s progress.

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