How to Put an 18-foot Prehistoric Sea Monster on Display

Research Technician May-Liss Funke, puts the final ribs in place. Photo courtesy of Bjørn Funke

Since its excavation in 2009, the ichthyosaur, “Gamla,” star of the National Geographic Channel documentary, “Death of a Sea Monster,” has been kept in the basement of the Geological Museum in Oslo. Now for the first time, it is being put on display in an official exhibit in the Zoological Museum at the Natural History Museum in Oslo.

The exhibit is a “best of” the Geological Museum in Oslo, as the building is now shut for renovation. The exhibit will include the famous Kongsberg silver and the much debated early primate fossil Darwinius masillae from Messel. The custom-made case for Gamla was sponsored by the DNB Savings Bank Foundation and was designed and made by 10 Tons in Denmark.

Research technician, May-Liss Funke, puts the final ribs in place. (Photo by Bjørn Funke)

The new star of the show is a near-complete (missing the end of the tail) fossil ichthyosaur, Cryopterygius kristiansenae, a marine reptile that thrived in the seas during the reign of the dinosaurs on land. This specimen is the most complete ichthyosaur excavated by Professor Jørn Hurum and his team from the Late Jurassic on the Arctic island of Spitsbergen (150 million years ago). The specimen was prepared by and named after Lena Kristiansen, and later conserved and readied for display by May-Liss Funke and Aubrey Jane Roberts.

Research technician May-Liss Funke, her husband, amateur paleontologist Bjørn Funke, and PhD student Aubrey Jane Roberts worked long hours for a full weekend, along with employees from 10 Tons to move the specimen into the case. The 18-foot (5.5-meter) ichthyosaur was not an easy specimen to lift, so a special cover was designed and built for the occasion.

The team puts the finishing touches on Gamla, while Stan the T. rex photo bombs the picture with his —> Read More