January 9, 2011 in Nation/World

Mastodon striking more viewer-friendly pose

Ann Sanner Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Museum visitors will no longer be greeted by a giant, 10,000-year-old skeletal rear end when they walk in. Instead, as a museum spokeswoman puts it, they’ll see “a little more majestic view.”

Workers on Saturday finished a three-day job of moving a roughly 1-ton mastodon skeleton several feet to a more flattering position at the Ohio Historical Center.

Kim Schuette, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Historical Society, which runs the museum, said visitors will now get a side view of the huge elephantlike beast when they enter. The mastodon’s backside had been greeting museum-goers who came through a lower-level entry. That door later became the main entrance to provide better access for the disabled.

A crew of six to eight people on Thursday began moving the mastodon by removing the front and hind legs from the 10-foot-tall skeleton, which is supported by a steel bracket. The head and tusks followed.

The museum’s senior curator of natural history, Bob Glotzhober, said the movers used a piece of equipment similar to a car jack to help hoist and rotate the mastodon’s midsection. Once that’s done, he said, “it’s essentially a very simple process at that point.”

But trying to get a mastodon’s body to look good from all angles? That proved trickier, he said.

“We turned it. Then looked at it. Then turned it again,” Glotzhober said. “That took a little while.”

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