A Paleoindian Joins the ‘Cast’ at the USU-CEU Prehistoric Museum

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A new and exciting story is being told in the Utah State University- College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum’s Hall of Archeology. After being introduced to its new surroundings, the Huntington Mammoth is facing attack fromВ  the museum’s newest “cast member”, a Paleoindian, armed with an atlatl.

The Paleoindian was added to the exhibition after weeks of careful and labor-intensive work by Dr. Kenneth Carpenter, the Prehistoric Museum’s Director and Curator of Paleontology.

The plastic resin skeleton of an Asian male was used as a stand-in for the early Native American. Dr. Carpenter carefully placed and connected each of the bones of the skeleton, then painted the entire collection to make it look as if the Paleoindian had “come from the ground”.

TheВ  work was complex, but for Carpenter, who has had a great deal of experience posing dinosaurs, the human skeleton was more simple. “Putting a human skeleton together is a whole lot easier than putting a dinosaur together,” Carpenter shared, explaining that this is because with a human skeleton, there is a ready reference point.

Posing the skeleton in a real-to-life pose was also important for Carpenter, who used photographs taken by Eadweard Muybridge to determine the proper stance for a human throwing a shafted weapon.

Carpenter even went to the effort of using projectile points found in the excavation of the mammoth to cast the arrow heads on the tips of the arrows included in the exhibition.

Public Relations Manager Christine Trease said the exhibit adds a dimension the museum. “At the museum, we want to tell a story,” she said, “and this addition completes this story.”

Trease is also excited by the educational opportunities such interpretative exhibits provide. “It really gives you an accurate depiction of our prehistoric past that you’re able to comprehend,” said Trease. “You’re going to school, but it doesn’t feel like you’re sitting in class.”

To meet the new addition, visit the Prehistoric Museum Monday thru Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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