Monday, August 12, 2013

Museum of the Rockies

I drove to Bozeman specifically to see this museum then found it to be rather Ho-hum.

 The museum is part of Montana State University, affiliated with the Smithsonian and has the largest collection of dinosaur fossils in the U.S.

But I found its displays to be less dramatic than the Tyrrell in Canada and there were far less specimens on display.  Have I seen too many fossils?  Am I becoming too critical?    

But there were still specimens that held my attention:

TRICERATOPS HORRIDUS--68 million years ago.

Triceratops was one of the largest horned dinosaurs, with a skull nine feet long and six feet wide.   

The body of this animal is 26 ft long and would have weighed 20 thousand pounds! A large bull elephant weighs about 14 thousand pounds.

In 2000, the Museum of the Rockies discovered an unprecedented 5 specimens of T-Rex.   

A Tyrannosaurus Rex was discovered in 1988 by Kathy Wankel of Angela, Mt.  The specimen was excavated by the Museum of the Rockies paleontology crew in 1990.
The skeleton was cast in bronze in 2001, becoming the first life-size bronze T.Rex in the world.

The Wankel T-Rex skeleton provided the first evidence of cell-like structures in a dinosaur, but it was the femur that yielded the biggest surprise of all.  Inside one of the bones the paleontologists discovered soft tissue, blood vessels and cells.  It was the first discovery of soft tissue in a fossilized organism and has the best chance of providing ancient DNA.  

Are we on the verge of creating a 'Jurassic Park'?  Do I think that's a good idea?  Boy, I don't know.  I think of the trouble we have with 'invasive species' now.  What if we introduced a T.Rex to the landscape?  Would it survive?  or Would we survive?  Hmmm.

I liked the following definitions in the children's section of the Museum....

A Hypothesis is a scientific idea supported by physical evidence.  Scientists gather and observe physical evidence.  Then they propose an idea based on that evidence.  A Hypothesis may be true or not true.  Good scientists look for evidence that their hypotheses are wrong instead of right.

When, after exhaustive attempts, no contrary evidence can be found to disprove a hypothesis, it becomes a theory.

Scientific theories are scientific hypotheses that have been tested over and over and have not been disproved.  The Theory of Gravity,  Germ Theory, The Theory of Evolution--all hypotheses that have been extensively tested and not yet been disproved. Theories require ample evidence for their support and no valid contrary evidence has been found to disprove them.

In the scientific world there are VERY FEW FACTS.  Everything is open for testing.


  1. Toni,
    I wish more adults understood the terms fact, hypothesis and theory that clearly.
    Have been greatly enjoying your travels, comments, and the lovely photos this summer. It is still warm (102 today) here. Am on my way to the Skeptics meeting tonight. Will be thinking of you and your travels, and of course, Sigh Me.

  2. Lynda, Thanks for the comment. Sigh Me and I have stayed pretty cool so far this summer--I haven't missed the 100+ weather at all. Say 'Hi' to those Skeptics for me.

  3. Hi, from Ione & Manfred