Rural Missouri - February 2014 - (Page 28)
The Missouri Dinosaur
Marble Hill museum offers rare glimpse of only dinosaur to be discovered in the state
by Paul Newton
igging inch by inch into the
ground of a former family
farm in rural southeast Missouri, Guy Darrough and
other scientists have been meticulously unearthing a prehistoric creature.
An unusual discovery of bone fragments by a Bollinger County family
at the farm more than 70 years ago
started a process that is now a massive
exhibit inside a southeast Missouri
museum housed in a former college.
When the Chronister family was
digging a well at their farm, they
discovered large bones in the clay.
By chance, "Dinosaur" Dan Stewart,
a geologist working for the Missouri
Geologic Survey, was doing work
nearby. The family showed Stewart
the bones they found, and he was
surprised at their size. The bones were
sent to the Smithsonian Institution to
be identiﬁed. The family was paid $50
The bones found were that of what
is now known as "The Missouri Dinosaur," and a full-sized replica of the
creature is the main attraction at the
Bollinger County Museum of Natural
History in Marble Hill.
The Missouri Dinosaur moniker
was given as it is the only dinosaur
discovered in the Show-Me State,
according to Eva Dunn, president of
the Bollinger County Museum of Natural History board. It was a surprising
ﬁnd, as dinosaur bones aren't found
in the Midwest often.
"You have to go about 1,000 miles
in any direction to ﬁnd another dinosaur site," says Eva.
The reason bones were found in
Glen Allen - a small town four miles
away - was due to a shift in the
earth long ago, according to Guy, the
Across from Dina Mo is an assortmuseum's curator.
ment of other sculptures built by Guy,
"At some point, there was a fault
including a tyrannosaurus that towers
system, and the ground dropped or
above everything else in the room.
opened up into a crevice. The dino"We're kind of known as the
saur bones fell into this lower area,"
dinosaur museum," Eva explains.
he explains. "Then, when Missouri
was scoured away
"It's from this region and is so
by glaciers and most
important scientiﬁcally. The actual
bones that are on display, scieneverything was pushed
tiﬁcally, they're priceless."
away, it was protected."
While it's important to
Excavation has been
preserve the dinosaur
happening at the site for
bones and other rare
nearly 25 years. In the late
Marble Hill *
items behind glass or
1990s, they ran into the
ropes, the museum works
problem of not having
to have less restrictive
anywhere to display the
areas for other items and
dinosaur bones. There also was a push
large replicas that can be touched and
in the community to preserve the
enjoyed by all ages. One room feahistory of the Will Mayﬁeld College.
tures a display named the "touch me
Though it had ceased operations in
table," which features dinosaur skin,
1934, its buildings still stood on top
teeth and claws.
of a large hill in town. The two came
"I really hate to see a child come
together, and the museum was born.
into a museum and have to be quiet
"We actually started out as a comand not touch anything. Children
mittee of the Will Mayﬁeld Foundawant to touch or crawl on things and
tion," Eva says. "It's been a great partexplore," says Eva. "We try and have
nership. We've been able to showcase
something around each exhibit that
the people history as well as the natuyou can touch. If you can feel a claw
of a dinosaur - even if it's a replica -
The museum, which is served
that gives it more reality and underby Black River Electric Cooperative,
standing. The more things a child can
opened on a limited basis in 1998
touch, the more they learn."
as a one-room display and has now
Making the sculptures lifelike is
expanded to multiple ﬂoors with the
important to Guy, who has built nearlife-sized replica of the The Missouri
ly every sculpture in the museum.
Dinosaur - formally known as Hyp"I want them to be as accusibema missouriense - on the second
rate as possible," says
ﬂoor a must see. The museum held a
statewide contest to give the dinosaur
a more personal name, and Dina Mo
Downstairs in the
enclosed lab and behind
glass in displays are
A replica of The Missouri
Dinosaur is the
Guy, who operates Lost World Studio
in Cadet and has created sculptures
for display around the country. "If
someone takes a picture of one of my
dinosaurs in a natural setting, and it
looks like it would've in real life, that's
why I do what I do."
While the dinosaurs and other
natural-history displays may be one of
the largest exhibits, there are plenty of
other interesting displays. Downstairs,
an old printing press is displayed near
cases featuring American Indian history and the Civil War. In a back room
is one of Eva's favorites, a collection of
"I really enjoy showing them to
people," she says of the collection
that includes crayons, wooden blocks,
homemade clay marbles and metal
trains and trucks. "When you're talking about 100-year-old toys, you're
not talking about plastic either.
They're all wood, ceramic or glass. It's
amazing they're still around."
Eva says she hopes people in southeast Missouri can make time to learn
about the history of the region.
"The scientiﬁc importance of The
Missouri Dinosaur is just not well
understood sometimes," she says. "We
would love to show them why it's so
The Bollinger County Museum of
Natural History is open from noon to
4:30 p.m., Thursday through
Saturday. Admission is
$2 for adults and $1
for children. For
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - February 2014
Rural Missouri - February 2014
Ministering to motorists
A mid-winter read
Fighting more than fires
Out of the Way Eats
Metal & music
Hearth and Home
The Missouri Dinosaur
Rural Missouri - February 2014