Dinosaur Sighting: Vintage Stegosaurus

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Like many fossils fans, I quite enjoy picking apart bad restorations of dinosaurs, but I must admit that I have a soft spot for the 20th century image of drab, slow, stupid dinosaurs. Those were the dinosaurs I first encountered at museums and school libraries—just before the "Dinosaur Renaissance" hit the mainstream of public consciousness—and so I was delighted when I came across this old photograph of a Stegosaurus created by the Smithsonian Institution.

Printed in a companion volume to the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, the photo shows a vintage dinosaur. Strangely, though, the plaster dinosaur was not mentioned by name in the image caption, which merely described it as "an armored dinosaur, a huge reptilian creature that once roamed the plains of what are now Wyoming, Colorado and Kansas, distinguished among others of its species by a small head, large projecting plates on the back, and stout spines on the tail." Still, any dinosaur aficionado would immediately recognize the creature as Stegosaurus, and the 1904 model looked little different from depictions of the same animal I saw just before images of 20th century dinosaurs were swept away.

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