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A duckbilled dinosaur named Ruth

Few visitors to National Museum Cardiff, and indeed few staff outside the Department of Geology, are aware that the spectacular duckbilled dinosaur Edmontosaurus, is known affectionately as 'Ruth'.

The logo for the Black Hills institute of Geological Research featuring Ruth the duck billed dinosaur from Amgueddfa Cymru
The logo for the Black Hills institute of Geological Research featuring Ruth the duck billed dinosaur from Amgueddfa Cymru

This name would seem to suggest that we know the sex of the 8-metre long specimen, although in fact there is no evidence to determine whether it is a male or female. Such evidence is not often available in fossils of this kind. So why 'Ruth'? The answer is quite simple and without any hidden scientific mysteries. It's because the specimen was found in a quarry in the Black Hills of South Dakota, USA, belonging to Mrs Ruth Mason.

The pet name was first used by the staff of the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research when they were excavating the dinosaur in 1986-7, in recognition of the many kindnesses shown to them by Mrs Mason. Following our purchase of the specimen, we learned very quickly of the name from hte people who came over to reconstruct the skeleton for us, and we have continued to use this affectionate name in informal reference to the specimen.

The Black Hills Institute, based in Hill City, South Dakota is one of the leading companies in the world engaged in the collection, preparation and supply of fine quality mineral and fossil specimens, which are particularly attractive to museums for display purposes.

The Edmontosaurus on display in Cardiff is one of the finest examples of a 'duckbilled' dinosaur ever excavated, and was mounted by the Black Hills Institute in a wonderfully life-like pose based on our own particular design requirements. Such is the aesthetic beauty and dynamic realism of the specimen that the Black Hills Institute has incorporated the skeletal drawing into its logo: it forms both a striking image and a fine testament to the skill of the preparators.

From humble beginnings over 65 million years ago, Ruth has now achieved world-wide recognition in promoting the availability of geological display specimens, while also providing a unique experience for all those who visit her at National Museum Cardiff.

Article Date: 26 July 2007

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