Press Central

Notes, news and discoveries

May 2018

Patagotitan, the largest dinosaur in the world, will become one of the main attractions at the Field Museum in Chicago

As from June, a real-size reconstruction of the Titanosaur will be part of the permanent exhibition at the Field Museum, one of the most important Natural Sciences museums in the world. The pieces were completely produced in Trelew, they’ve just arrived in USA and will be assembled by a team from Mef who travelled there invited by the Exhibitions Department of The Field Museum.

In the year of 2012, a ranch workman called Aurelio Hernández discovered the first bone of what would become one of the most amazing discoveries in paleontology: over 150 fossils belonging to at least 6 individuals of a new giant dinosaur species that happened to be the largest known so far. The huge size of the fossils and their amount drew much attention, since they allowed the most complete anatomic reconstruction ever made of the largest terrestrial herbivores in the history of our planet. That is how the history of Patagotitan mayorum started.

At the present, the original fossils of this giant are deposited at Mef Collection. But the impact this discovery made has been such, that museums around the world are requesting a copy of it to be included in their exhibitions: in the year of 2016, one was assembled at the American Museum of Natural History (Nueva York), and this week, a new one will be built at the Field Museum in Chicago. The Patagonian dinosaur will be placed in a central spot, replacing iconic `Sue´, the largest Tyrannosaurus rex in the world.

The Field Museum, with almost 200 years of history, is one of the oldest in the United States, and it’s visited by around 2.5 million people each year. It is located in Chicago, the third city of the country size-wise speaking. “Patagotitan will be at this hub promoting tourism in Argentina, in Patagonia and in our Museum on a continuous basis” Florencia Gigena, Manager to the Communications and Marketing Department at Mef, comments.

The replicas for this new model were completely produced by Mef technicians at one of its workshops, being advised by the paleontologists who took part in the discovery. Now, after almost two years of intensive work, and a two-months trip, the pieces have arrived in Chicago. A team from Mef travelled to assemble the skeleton; for two weeks on a row, Maximiliano Iberlucea, Máximo Delloca, Walter Mora, Pablo Passalía and Javier García Díaz will be working in the main hall of The Field Museum, to public view, to set this dinosaur at the special spot that has been reserved for it.

“Our giant has been eagerly expected for several weeks at The Field Museum… They have even nicknamed him already! Just like their T.rex was named ´Sue´, at this Museum Patagotitan’s name as from now is Máximo (yes, just like that, in Spanish, to honor his home-country, Argentina) after his huge size“, Florencia details. On May 25th, a formal introduction to the press will be made, whilst from June 1st this exhibition will be available for the public to visit.

The start of a great project

Around three years ago, The Field Museum approached Mef in the search of a replacement of one of their most iconic attractions at the Stanley Field Hall: Sue, an original skeleton of T-rex which is the most complete and better preserved one ever found for that species.

After having been exhibited for almost 20 years, Sue’ skeleton was ready for restoration. Therefore, Sue is now at another, specially prepared spot in the museum; it is displayed on a new structure which was purpose-designed to stand its weight, while it awaits the opening of its new, modern room, planned for March 2019.

With this regard, Florencia explains: “there was a monumental restoring stage happening at the Stanley Field Hall. Along the replica of the Titanosaur, they have included some hanging gardens, new lighting, signaling and image, and even: a flock of pterosaurs! Within the frame of this renewal, a collaboration project among both museums got developed: this model will help promote tourism, culture and science – and specially the paleontological work – in Argentina; we, on the other hand, bring our knowledge on the assemblage of huge replicas to replace ´Sue´ at the museum’s entrance with something likewise spectacular”.

A titanic work

Mef technicians worked for seven months to produce molds and copies of the fossils, as well as to sculpting some of the pieces that weren’t found; they also made the structure on which they will be assembled. All of this was made to the detail to keep the designed structure to fit this 40-meters-long giant into the Hall. “We worked basing on 3D blueprints of the Hall to design its exact posture; the head was measured to the millimeter so it will peep over a balcony on the first floor, where a selfies’ station will be set. We also had to take in account some chandeliers pending on the Hall’ ceiling that are often taken down to the floor to be cleaned; thus, the design was made in such a way that the dinosaur won´t interfere with that task”, Florencia explains. The museum’s floor is almost 180 years-old, it’s made of limestone and has a vault underneath. “It can’t support much weight per square meter; therefore, the replica was designed at Mef’ workshop basing on some engineering reports from Chicago to have as a guide to distribute the dinosaur’ weight, which is 5000 kilos”

The Field Museum hired a container to ship the copy, which was transported “by lorry from Mef’ workshop to Buenos Aires, from where it was shipped to New York, then by train to Chicago, and finally by lorry to The Field.

Our Titanosaur travelled for two months through the whole continent, and he is now in Chicago”, Florencia ends.

This way, Patagotitan becomes – one more time – an ambassador for Mef and Patagonia before the world’s eyes.

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