Silent Night, Leaky Pipe

Burpee Museum is closed for five holidays each year: New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Normally, these holidays pass quietly as people spend their holidays with family and friends and the museum reopens the next day with no problems. That was not the case for Burpee Museum employees returning to work after the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2013 holidays.

Staff found water covering the lobby and Mahlburg Auditorium floors. A water pipe had frozen and cracked because of the frigidly cold winter temperatures and caused a major flood in the museum. All told, over 700 gallons of water were pumped out of the Mahlburg Auditorium. But, the damage to the first floor carpet and walls paled in comparison to the damage done to specimens in collections storage below. Water rained from the ceiling in collections, damaging over 200 specimens from the Biology and Anthropology collections.

Flood damaged Peacock

Flood damaged Peacock

Staff and volunteers were called in to help clean up the mess. Burpee was fortunate to have the help of many volunteers during the flood clean up; without their help the work that needed to get done would have been a daunting task. Their first task was to relocate the Anthropology, Biology, and Botany collections from collections storage to the Riverview Room for assessment and basic inventory. The specimens remained stored in the Riverview Room for eight weeks while the collections storage room was dried out, repainted, and re-acclimated for specimens. Once removed from collections, the specimens were individually assessed and recommendations for their care and repair were made.

Burpee Museum's specimens in temporary storage in the Riverview Room.

Burpee Museum’s specimens in temporary storage in the Riverview Room.

Although the specimens are back in collections and the day to day operations are back to normal at Burpee Museum, the recovery continues. The museum’s insurance plans will (and have) covered the physical damage to the building, and will cover some repair to some of the damaged specimens. The museum has also created a Specimen Adoption Program to help cover some of the costs that the insurance will not cover. If you’re interested in learning more about the Specimen Adoption Program visit the Christmas Flood Page on the Burpee Museum website.

Field work and field trips and fossils … Oh my!

Springtime at Burpee Museum brings many welcome changes from the long, cold winter months. One of the most welcome changes happens when the field crew starts to gear up and get ready for the summer expeditions.

MTRainbow

This summer Burpee Museum will send field crews to Hanksville, Utah to excavate in the Jurassic-aged Hanksville-Burpee Dinosaur Quarry  and to Ekalaka, Montana to search for more Late Cretaceous specimens, like Pearl, Homer, and Jane. Burpee field crews stay at each site for approximately one month. During the course of that month they must open each site, excavate, map, and remove fossils, and then winterize the sites.  Expeditions allow the museum to grow the collection and participate in research to help better understand dinosaurs, their contemporaries, and the world as it was during their time.

Expeditions also allow Burpee Museum to connect the general public with paleontology. People interested in experiencing what a dinosaur dig is like are encouraged to register for one (or more!) of Burpee’s Expeditions and try their hand at field work. Anyone interested in field work, or the expeditions is welcome to join us Saturday, April 12 from 1-3pm for an Expedition Orientation Session. No registration is required for the orientation sessions!

For those looking to stay closer to home, Burpee Museum also hosts Family Fossil Field Trips at local quarries. On these field trips participants can spend the afternoon hunting for local Ordovician fossils, such as crinoids, cephalopods, brachiopods, and trilobites, and they get to keep what they find!

For more information about either Expeditions or Family Fossil Field Trips, please visit Burpee Museum’s website.

Burpee’s Newest Treasure

(C) Dr. Julius Csotonyi

(C) Dr. Julius Csotonyi

In the summer of 2013, Burpee Museum’s field crews discovered a rare dinosaur while on expedition in Montana. This dinosaur, nicknamed Pearl, was found by Highland Community College Professor Steve Simpson and students while prospecting for new sites. When Pearl was discovered, she was part of an undescribed species of North American Caenagnathid Oviraptorosaur. The Burpee field crews were fortunate in the timing of the discovery, accompanying them in the field at that time were paleontologists Thomas Holtz, Jack Horner, Mark Goodwin, and Tyler Lyson. With their help, the Burpee field crew realized that this new find was exceptionally rare and very exciting.

Other specimens of this same undescribed species had already been found by the Carnegie Museum and the Marmarth Research Foundation, and a team of researchers was working on a description of the new species. On March 19, 2014 paleontologists Matt Lamanna, Hans-Dieter Sues, Emma Schachner, and Tyler Lyson published their description of a new North American Caenagnathid Oviraptorosaur named Anzu wyliei. Their description, “A New Large-Bodied Oviraptorosaurian Theropod Dinosaur from the Latest Cretaceous of North America” was published in the open access journal PLOSOne. Pearl would have been a feathered dinosaur, 3.5m (11.5ft) long, 1.5m (5ft) tall at the hip and weighing in at about 200-300kg (440-660lbs).  These dinosaurs are edentolous, meaning that they did not have any teeth; despite this it has been suggested that they were omnivorous and ate both smaller animals and plants.

Pearl will add to the understanding of this new species because she can fill in some of the missing skeletal elements that the holotype and referred specimens don’t have – particularly feet and toes. Keep checking in at No Stone Unturned for the most up-to-date information about Pearl and all of Burpee Museum’s other endeavors!

A mythologically derived theropod rises from the ashes ….

Burpe LogoWe’ve had quite the lapse in posting, but not without good reason. In the past year Burpee Museum has undergone some monumental, and very beneficial, changes. We’ve spent time re-organizing and regaining our focus so that we can be at our best and serve our local and global communities to the fullest!

We have many new and exciting updates to share here – everything from new dinosaurs to new partnerships! We can’t wait to get everyone caught up on what we’ve been up to while the blog has been quiet. Look for our weekly posts on Wednesdays!

We’ve also updated our pages here, particularly the expeditions page. The expeditions page is now updated with all of our 2014 information, check it out!

 

29 Days to Homer

More cool installation happening in the SupplyCore Hall of Paleontology in preparation for “Homer’s Odyssey: From the Badlands to Burpee” – the crew from Xibitz has been hard at work most of this week! What do you think will be going on this wall??

More installation elements for the Homer exhibit. (c) Burpee Museum

More installation elements for the Homer exhibit.             (c) Burpee Museum

30 Days to Homer

Today is May 29, 2013, in exactly one month the “Homer’s Odyssey: From the Badlands to Burpee” will premier as Burpee Museum’s newest permanent exhibit!

(C) Burpee Museum

Part of the new “Homer” exhibit. Can you tell what it is?              (c) Burpee Museum

This week the first stages of installation for the exhibit began in SupplyCore Hall of Paleontology, as seen in the picture above. Can you guess what this structure might be for?

We’ll keep you updated as more pieces of this incredible exhibit go up!

Expedition Orientation Meeting

No Stone Unturned has been woefully neglected as we’ve been planning the wrap-up and deinstall for the “Rick’s Picks: A Lifelong Affair with Guitars and Music” and the installs for “Treasure!” – a joint traveling exhibit with the Discovery Center – and “Homer’s Odyssey: From the Badlands to Burpee.”

Through all of that we’ve seen steady sign ups and inquiries about this summer’s expedition programs. We still have room in Utah, Week 2 and Montana, Week 5. We will also be hosting an Expedition Orientation at Burpee Museum on April 20, 2013 from 1-3pm. Anyone interested in expeditions is welcome to attend and learn more about our expedition programs.

We have lots of information to share from the past several weeks, so be prepared for more posts in the near future!