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ThePhysicist

I spent some time meandering through South Dakota in May, taking in the sprawling forests and mountains. It’s truly a beautiful area of the country with plenty to see and do.

 

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^ Pareidolia clearly in full effect.

 

Since I was in SD, I knew I had to pay a visit to the BHI - and if you happen to like fossils, I think you’ll enjoy tagging along. The BHI is a private company which specializes in producing cast replicas for museums and the general public. Until October 2020, they played host to the T. rex “Stan,” who was auctioned off for $32 million; it has recently been revealed that Stan is to be in a new museum in the UAE (whether Stan is privately owned or technically in a public trust in the museum I do not know, for those who wonder. In any case, at least he'll be enjoyed by the public). Besides Stan, the BHI is well-known for many other significant specimens including T. rex “Sue,” and Triceratops “Lane” (now displayed in the Field Museum in Illinois, and The Houston Museum of Nature and Science in Texas, respectively). I was looking forward to the visit since I have a couple of their casts, and I’d gotten a glimpse of the place through TFF.

 

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It was a rainy morning in the small town of Hill City; even without the sign, I knew I was at the right place.

 

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I entered through the gift shop and was immediately struck by the density of the awesomeness before me. My jaw didn’t leave the floor until I somehow convinced myself that I needed to go home. The BHI museum is in a small, one-room building that is packed top-to-bottom front-to-back with fossils. The center is a tight weave of dinosaur skeletons while the walls are lined with lighted cabinets. I was evidently the first visitor that day so I was able to enjoy the space undisturbed for a while. I normally don’t take so many pictures since I usually get lost in experiencing a new place, but I knew I was going to write about it, so I reminded myself to capture more. Some of them should also serve as good reference images (for me at least). (If you’re concerned about “spoiling” the experience for yourself, best get out now since this is pretty thorough.)

 

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So sit back and scroll as we take a short walk around the room…

 

Some trace fossils

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An impressive Tylosaurus proriger from the Niobrara formation of Kansas, complete with sclerotic bones.

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“Big Al 2,” an Allosaurus (replica)

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A young Torosaurus skull (I believe part of the frill has been reconstructed)

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Anzu, pachycephalosaurus, T. rex

IMG_1515.thumb.jpeg.9388d1305cb0a6200b5ca4e6fb88dccc.jpeg

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Edmontosaurus annectens

IMG_1520.thumb.jpeg.f9dcf1786edafe94e2ef80b163286eca.jpeg

 

... and an oddly-postured young Triceratops 

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Sue's skull and a neat sculpture of the dig

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Denversaurus skull and armor

IMG_1523.thumb.jpeg.f1f59b39066d6e7b995fb88ecb65d06b.jpegIMG_1524.thumb.jpeg.9e9e0695bd22a44e43fe0bce2acfa261.jpeg

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Tarbosaurus skull (replica)

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Triceratops

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Smile!

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Towards the back is a display on the Western Interior Seaway, complete with Baculites and Xiphactinus.

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ThePhysicist
Posted (edited)

IMG_1620.thumb.jpeg.7b0095688207ab01e3a4bf3c7ac56093.jpeg

 

Whale bones

IMG_1619.thumb.jpeg.04a1fc4d80ddf916008b1d1104d6ae7a.jpeg

 

Camarasaurus

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You have to remember to look up - it's literally floor-to-ceiling fossils

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Pachycephalosaurus and Maiasaura

IMG_1643.thumb.jpeg.9d64ec81bfb359a30615b48f8c733689.jpeg

 

Acrocanthosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Camarasaurus, and looks like Diplodocus

IMG_1575.thumb.jpeg.e7b5460149d2d4744ebd8ffff55477b2.jpeg

 

Albertosaurus and Gorgosaurus skull

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T. rex skulls (casts)

IMG_1608.thumb.jpeg.92b4d1faff91fb0a87bff2a5c16ad045.jpegIMG_1677.thumb.jpeg.ac1e8417a8d9e117a8935571c7bec4d4.jpeg

IMG_1582.thumb.jpeg.2d95c212830c067eb48304c98d1a12c9.jpegIMG_1581.thumb.jpeg.70941d674eba0f867c4108f6c33102ef.jpeg

 

Edaphosaurus (cast)

IMG_1604.thumb.jpeg.7dfefa04c61363db064df8e7b8b50639.jpeg

 

Continuing with the "island"

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Edmontosaurus annectens skull (real)

IMG_1669.thumb.jpeg.c9c985c787e93cab6f1586b4b0ec6d3e.jpeg

 

Big croc, might be Sarcosuchus

IMG_1678.thumb.jpeg.ae147c16a86fdccbfe7e4ddbf5f09695.jpeg

 

Brachychampsa?

IMG_1672.thumb.jpeg.9b7e5ebd7c3e3a6bcb31c2d612d45dcc.jpeg

 

Thescelosaurus

IMG_1578.thumb.jpeg.bf76c7df714bfacff0b50e7e9ae9fa33.jpeg

 

Struthiomimus (real)

IMG_1601.thumb.jpeg.be8f3466dd1c64c4e80f644996b1997f.jpeg

 

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And of course, Stan:

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It's really an exquisite cast; even the denticles on the teeth are captured in good detail

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Not all T. rex teeth are big, the biggest are a bit more than 3", the smallest probably about 1/2"

IMG_1674.thumb.jpeg.c2bd257bdbe906a99378f6358cc09bc6.jpeg

Edited by ThePhysicist
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ThePhysicist
Posted (edited)

As many of you know, the Nanotyrannus/juvenile T. rex debate remains a hot topic these days, and with the BHI being a proponent of Nanotyrannus, I was curious to see the display which demonstrated some of their arguments in favor. I won't make any commentary, just showing what they are presenting.

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Cast of the Nanotyrannus holotype

IMG_1556.thumb.jpeg.e30c7061da8ecee073298ef6e079abb2.jpeg

 

Juvenile T. rex dentary featuring 13 oval-shaped aveoli 

IMG_1665.thumb.jpeg.12ac80a7178ded5b208dacf7c6155f29.jpeg

 

IMG_1553.thumb.jpeg.002a5308047a841e9e1676ea5c9b55b2.jpeg

 

... next to a Nanotyrannus dentary of similar size with slender teeth and more aveoli

IMG_1554.thumb.jpeg.a91c746a743a3069476c96beb1d281be.jpeg

 

A purported diagnostic feature of Nano: a longitudinal groove on the side of the dentary

IMG_1555.thumb.jpeg.795d8367b92809fec24de025006e4116.jpeg

 

Different sizes of hand bones in adult T. rex and Nanotyrannus. Some Nano hand bones are larger than adult T. rex, not just proportionally larger.

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Let’s take a look at some of those cabinets - don’t worry it’s not all dinos/vertebrates

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Trilobites

IMG_1587.thumb.jpeg.c92159d09938714ecd53bd61db66745f.jpeg

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Cephalopods

 

Heteromorph ammonites

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IMG_1576.thumb.jpeg.f3b6c420ece0af5b9c0231eb68359027.jpeg

 

Edited by ThePhysicist
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ThePhysicist
Posted (edited)

Some cool fish

 

IMG_1592.thumb.jpeg.a126b5a31ddc9df29565d7e819ab7f8e.jpeg

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A former world-record-sized megalodon tooth (right one)

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Some sea scorpions and the "Tully monster"

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More trilobites and ammonites

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IMG_1606.thumb.jpeg.bb16f48894bf948f34f3495c5f76d494.jpeg

 

A couple of more awesome cephalopods - I didn't know we had such incredible preservation

IMG_1650.thumb.jpeg.6a99f81592bbb360c383e08d7bcb21e9.jpeg

IMG_1651.thumb.jpeg.c3c91f0546816236f43b8a3ebf80adfb.jpeg

 

Oligocene mammals

IMG_1658.thumb.jpeg.002da40ee0737284677bbd3103aa8719.jpeg

IMG_1655.thumb.jpeg.1b83ee18501fb65ec34d18ef4b7f8876.jpeg

IMG_1657.thumb.jpeg.3ffc2ef88ee1919186179a76037eb00e.jpeg

 

some real fossil eggs:

IMG_1656.thumb.jpeg.b32c42b1c2ec11645035a843a45d2b38.jpeg

IMG_1519.thumb.jpeg.09f4e0ccc87f8c7d3b0b0f19f9d89a1e.jpeg

 

Some excellent green river specimens

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Smilodon - their teeth aren't that big, they have slipped out of the sockets a bit.

IMG_1596.thumb.jpeg.2bc1189232bcfd29211273fe40ee307b.jpeg

 

Back to dinosaurs...

Real dinosaur eggs from China

IMG_1645.thumb.jpeg.0df0f3282be1403a53eb93c8565ccded.jpeg

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Some incredible birds

IMG_1589.thumb.jpeg.be951e1d3d37a3646e3543feb19ea443.jpegIMG_1588.thumb.jpeg.10af9584152a7762459d13004c69fe41.jpeg

 

Small theropods

 

Velociraptor (cast)

IMG_1644.thumb.jpeg.e980538055b8447ef03bfda877b4d4c8.jpeg

 

Alioramus (cast)

IMG_1529.thumb.jpeg.ecc5320d2b773f83e580ab2cef45038e.jpeg

 

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IMG_1531.thumb.jpeg.13ae52c943b4ee19211acd604476404d.jpeg

 

 

Edited by ThePhysicist
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Posted (edited)

Some Hell Creek dinos

IMG_1641.thumb.jpeg.d3d98e1db88d1d2207612f027e78bdfd.jpeg

 

E. annectens skin

IMG_1640.thumb.jpeg.c8ba7a4494943be8e55b8f079c74e7da.jpeg

 

IMG_1638.thumb.jpeg.cfa7b92b95d0d4fe8083d66cf642964d.jpeg

IMG_1546.thumb.jpeg.670fc284147d06ac5e1d86427c9fcb90.jpeg

 

Cast of "Jane"

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615586110_IMG_16422.thumb.jpeg.c90620a0c516dfb03a3bce383145a86d.jpeg

 

My favorite cabinet was of course filled with T. rex!

IMG_1536.thumb.jpeg.ae12d971659098240891571cfad9afcb.jpeg

 

Surangular (part of the lower jaw) with bite marks?

IMG_1540.thumb.jpeg.e7320dd0061fc56a39b1b097500e54f6.jpeg

 

Post-orbital (behind the eye)

IMG_1633.thumb.jpeg.689721cdb2f82b8cc908c0780dd8904d.jpeg

 

Dentary - you can see teeth growing in their aveoli

IMG_1632.thumb.jpeg.587a125932d9601495b952731b8efcf4.jpeg

IMG_1537.thumb.jpeg.a8249c204a25cdf471c851d4a2a46ee9.jpeg

 

Feeding traces

IMG_1534.thumb.jpeg.8e2551169e416e720e723d52d1025d12.jpeg

 

IMG_1532.thumb.jpeg.ce81dcb1b787e8c0ae64627609ce5625.jpeg

 

1743630697_IMG_15352.thumb.jpeg.6aadb84c287bdf021aa46c0108037eee.jpeg

 

And some really sweet teeth

IMG_1539.thumb.jpeg.e816438c6f763ddc6ee9a52e05003f4c.jpeg

IMG_1542.thumb.jpeg.8c33ed80e176d68d7839b787ad013ab1.jpeg

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IMG_1636.thumb.jpeg.36795e91fbd2c556cfcf0e2e7f4c391b.jpeg

 

The gift shop was like candy land. Like the museum, it is filled to the brim, but with books, posters, clothing, rocks, and of course some really cool fossils. Notwithstanding extreme self-restraint, my wallet didn’t walk away unscathed. I moseyed out with a t-shirt and teeth from a Ceratopsid and Tyrannosaurid.

 

Tyranno.thumb.jpg.e7a236f01254bd1c2c7ed9eb46be59d2.jpgIMG_2912.thumb.JPG.54f18ba7a66779b45b4af9c219c96ef8.JPG

 

Anyway that’s all folks, hope you enjoyed!

Edited by ThePhysicist
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This place is amazing.  Every time i go i come out with different  favorite fossils than previous visits; they have soooooo many great fossils.

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MarcoSr

Great posts/thread with awesome pictures!

 

In 2017 my sons and I were given a private tour by Pete Larson of the BHI buildings (close to the museum) where the majority of BHI specimens are housed and where the prep and restoration and casting is done.  Only a small fraction of their total collection is on display in the museum itself.  We saw drawer after drawer, shelf after shelf of incredible prepped specimens with thousands of specimens still in jackets.  Pete told us that they keep most of their specimens in the jackets until they have a buyer for the specimen or want to display it in the museum.  They also cast their specimens on demand after buyer purchase.  We also got to see several dinosaur specimens that they were prepping from their matrix.

 

Marco Sr.

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Ludwigia

Wow! Now that is a LOT of bones! I'm overwhelmed to say the least. Thanks for giving us the tour!

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FranzBernhard

"Wunderkammer"

Thanks for sharing!
Franz Bernhard

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minnbuckeye

IMG_1504.thumb.jpeg.819a9b6cc309333d6ff03b2374049bc7.jpeg 

Such a great display of fossils. This picture speaks for the décor of the institute. SO many fossils packed in such a small space. The vast majority of museums are mostly open space. The sensation one feels inside this building is so different. If anyone is in the area, definitely visit!!! Thanks for posting and letting me relive my experiences there! 

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Phos_01

Hey, thanks for posting! Thats awesome 

 

Many gorgeous fossils that I would like to own, that jaw and teeth looked amazing.


 

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Nimravis

Great post and pictures.

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rfarrar

I did notice an embarrassing mistake in our labelling in one of the photos. Evidently labels had gotten switched on a couple of squids, during glass cleaning. The correct label is in the photo here. 

 

Bob

IMG_1623.JPG

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siteseer

Great photos.  I visited about 30 years ago.  It's more loaded with specimens than I remember.

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ThePhysicist
On 6/17/2022 at 9:35 PM, MarcoSr said:

Great posts/thread with awesome pictures!

 

In 2017 my sons and I were given a private tour by Pete Larson of the BHI buildings (close to the museum) where the majority of BHI specimens are housed and where the prep and restoration and casting is done.  Only a small fraction of their total collection is on display in the museum itself.  We saw drawer after drawer, shelf after shelf of incredible prepped specimens with thousands of specimens still in jackets.  Pete told us that they keep most of their specimens in the jackets until they have a buyer for the specimen or want to display it in the museum.  They also cast their specimens on demand after buyer purchase.  We also got to see several dinosaur specimens that they were prepping from their matrix.

 

Marco Sr.

Thanks! I thought about asking ahead of time if I could see some behind-the-scenes, but forgot to. I'm not sure they'd let just anybody see that stuff, but figured it would be worth it to ask.  

 

22 hours ago, rfarrar said:

I did notice an embarrassing mistake in our labelling in one of the photos. Evidently labels had gotten switched on a couple of squids, during glass cleaning. The correct label is in the photo here.

Thanks for the correction!

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MarcoSr
8 hours ago, ThePhysicist said:

Thanks! I thought about asking ahead of time if I could see some behind-the-scenes, but forgot to. I'm not sure they'd let just anybody see that stuff, but figured it would be worth it to ask.

 

My sons were good friends with a good friend of Pete's who arranged the private tour.  Pete came out to our M&M ranch in Nebraska and used drones to survey the ranch.  My sons said that he wanted to collect our ranch, in turn, letting us collect one of his dinosaur leases.  However, my sons decided to leave our ranch to the amateurs because, at the time, they had a lease on a dinosaur ranch in South Dakota.

 

Marco Sr.

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  • 2 weeks later...
AJHope
On 6/20/2022 at 1:30 PM, rfarrar said:

I did notice an embarrassing mistake in our labelling in one of the photos. Evidently labels had gotten switched on a couple of squids, during glass cleaning. The correct label is in the photo here. 

 

Bob

IMG_1623.JPG


Can't seem to zoom in at the moment, can someone verify the 3rd line of the captions? "w/preserved arms. ?????, stomach contents"

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3 minutes ago, AJHope said:


Can't seem to zoom in at the moment, can someone verify the 3rd line of the captions? "w/preserved arms. ?????, stomach contents"

The missing word is “jaws”.

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AJHope
27 minutes ago, Kane said:

The missing word is “jaws”.

 

THANKS!! yep, figures :DOH:

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rocket

incredible collection..., thanks for showing this :SlapHands:

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ThePhysicist
On 7/5/2022 at 6:42 AM, rocket said:

incredible collection..., thanks for showing this :SlapHands:

Sure! Glad you enjoyed

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  • 1 month later...

Wow. This is amazing. These are just about the most beautiful specimens I've seen anywhere. I make go on a hunting trip Out West next fall and Ive wondered about stops for the road trip. This would definitely be near the top of the list. 

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