I dropped in at the Raffles Museum today and was dragged to a locked room by Leo Tan and Belinda Teo who happened to chance on me.
Leo Tan’s face was a picture of relish as he impatiently paced until the keys appeared – with an entourage. Once opened, his and Belinda’s eyes glistened with true wonder at the sight of fossilised vertebra. And they all burst into laughter when they realised the bones had company – an army of replicas were gawking at the REAL THING!
The vertebra had come from Wyoming, it seems, from the owners of Apollo, Prince and Twinky. Sympathy for the museum’s struggle to raise private funds in time to acquire the sauropods had spurred them to ship real, fossilised dinosaur vertebral bones to help in the fund-raising process.
I looked as our very distinguished Professor Leo Tan attempted to climb up an unsteady chair for an overhead shot of the bones laid out on the table. We gawked and Kaixin intervened. Finding a sturdy stool, she took several shots while everyone chattered like children. I mean really chattered.
I was struck with wonder – not at the solid feel of these age-old structures I was already plotting to have my zoology students examine – instead, I was struck by the excitement these dinosaur fossils had elicited in the museum folk around me.
Imagine three genuine, majestic dinosaurs to call our own, how that would excite visitors in the new museum in 2014. I could easily see how they will awaken the imagination of kids far and wide who will dream of an ancient age predating man and the artificial boundaries he impresses upon the planet.
This is not some government mega-project. The Raffles Museum at NUS in many ways is still very much a mom and pop shop. But passionate people walk the floors, and for better or for worse, are a bunch of real enthusiasts. They reflect the excitement of children and the child within every contributor who has dug deep to chip away at the SG$12 million bill.
The twinkle in their eyes, despite the setbacks from the fund raising, has me chortling even now. Never fear, they have not given up – the hunt to bring Apollo, Prince and Twinky to our shores is alive and well!
- A long love affair with dinosaurs – now, let’s get some of our own!” Otterman speaks, 29 Jul 2011 – link
- “Donate to our Dinosaur Exhibit” – webpage at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, NUS – link
- FAQ on the Dinosaur Project – link
- News and reports about the dinosaur acquisition project on Raffles Museum News – link