200 Years. 200 Stories. Story 70: “Dentures for an Irish Elk ”

« Set in Stone

A Chip Off the Old Meteorite »

photo of the Irish elk skull and dentures
The Irish elk skull slated for display in The Academy at 200: The Nature of Discovery is shown from the bottom with one row of damaged or missing teeth on the right and the row of new dentures on the left. The skull of a modern counterpart to the Irish elk is visible in the far left of the photo.

Dentures for an Irish Elk

Most people don’t get to see what goes on before an Academy exhibit opens to the public. But we can’t resist giving you a special behind-the-scenes sneak peek at the preparations for The Academy at 200: The Nature of Discovery. We are excited to announce that the exhibit will include a giant Irish Elk fossil from the Late Pleistocene era, about 10 to 25 thousand years ago. Donated to the Academy in 1853 by Mr. John Abell of Limerick, Ireland, the elk fossil was missing some teeth. To prepare the elk for exhibition, fossil preparator Fred Mullison is sculpting new teeth for the elk in Super Sculpy sculpting clay. He will then mold and cast them in polyester resin and paint them to look like the original teeth. Many natural history museums use similar techniques to fill in missing bones for display purposes, because seeing a nearly complete fossil enhances visitors’ understanding of the animal and its life and functions.

The elk will make his debut during Bicentennial Weekend, March 24–25, 2012, when the exhibit opens to the public. Save the date to check out his big smile along with many other rarely seen treasures from the Academy’s collections.

Plan your visit, check out our new exhibits, and find out about upcoming activities.
Discover the past and explore the future of the natural sciences in our online exhibits.
Make a difference, browse our programs, and get involved with the natural world.