Trailside Museum unveils new art inspired by Nebraska fossils April 15

Released on 04/02/2010, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

WHEN: Thursday, Apr. 15, 2010

WHERE: Trailside Museum of History, Fort Robinson State Park, near Crawford

Lincoln, Neb., April 2nd, 2010 —
Mark Marcuson (photo by Gregory Brown)
Mark Marcuson (photo by Gregory Brown)
Entelodont rendering by Mark Marcuson
Entelodont rendering by Mark Marcuson

On April 15, the Trailside Museum of Natural History at Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford will open a new permanent paleontology exhibit featuring art by Mark Marcuson.

The exhibit consists of 18 scientific reconstructions of ancient animals that roamed Nebraska at various times over the last 40 million years. The full-color panels include scientific information and illustrate how these creatures looked based on fossil material in the research collections of the University of Nebraska State Museum and elsewhere. The public is invited to a free open house at the Trailside Museum to celebrate the exhibit from 2 to 7 p.m. (MDT) April 15.

Marcuson is a Nebraska native known for his exceptional murals that depict prehistoric creatures and landscapes. His extensive knowledge of animal anatomy and locomotion give him the scientific foundation to create reconstructions of animals based on fossil skeletons. Marcuson uses fossils as base images in his sketches, then overlays musculature, skin and fur to recreate the exterior body form. Marcuson's reconstructions are considered to be among the best produced.

"It's hard for visitors to imagine from fossil bones what an animal must have looked like when it was alive. Marcuson has an amazing ability to bring fossils 'to life' while maintaining scientific accuracy with the advice of our research paleontologists," said Mark Harris, associate director of the NU State Museum.

Marcuson's artwork can be seen throughout Morrill Hall at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Hubbard Rhino Barn at Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park and the Trailside Museum. Notable paintings include his portrayal of Ice Age mammoths along the Platte River in the Elephant Hall gallery at Morrill Hall, and the dramatic "Clash of the Mammoths" death match scene at Trailside.

The 18 new images depict the following species based on fossils found in Nebraska or nearby states:

* Browsing antelope (Syndyoceras)
* Archaic carnivore (Hyaenodon)
* Carnivorous beardog (Daphoenus)
* Chalicothere (Moropus)
* Digging beaver (Paleocastor)
* Entelodont (Dinohyus)
* Running rhino (Hyracodon)
* Nimravid carnivore (Dinictis)
* Titanothere (Megacerops)
* Ammonite (Didymoceras)
* Camel (Oxydactylus)
* Grand owl (new, unnamed species)
* Mammoth (Mammuthus columbi)
* Mastodon (Mammut americanum)
* Oreodont (Merycoidodon)
* Plesiosaur (Elasmosaurus)
* Stegomastodon
* Giant cretaceous fish (Xiphactinus)

Funded by the Prehistoric Prairies Discovery Committee of the Chadron/Crawford area, this exhibit is part of ongoing efforts to enhance the Trailside Museum, including the recent installation of a new cast of a three-toed fossil horse (Cormohipparion) and improvements to the gift shop.

The Trailside Museum of Natural History is a branch museum of the University of Nebraska State Museum. Admission is $3 for adults, $1 for children 5-18 (4 and younger free), and $6 for families (up to two adults with children). A Nebraska State Park permit is required for entry, $4 one-time, $20 annual. Spring hours resume April 1 for the remainder of April and May: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (MDT). Summer hours begin on Memorial Day and continue through Labor Day: open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (MDT). For more information on the exhibits, contact Mark Harris at (402) 472-6699 or by e-mail, or visit For Trailside Museum visitor information, telephone (308) 665-2929 or visit

WRITER: Dana Ludvik, Public Relations Coordinator, NU State Museum, (402) 472-3779