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A behind the scenes look at dinosaur heaven: Inside HMNS' new Paleo Hall with Leon the Hadrosaur

A behind the scenes look at dinosaur heaven: Inside HMNS' new Paleo Hall with Leon the Hadrosaur

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is understandably excited about its new Hall of Paleontology, a bigger, better space with room for 60 major mounts, fossils and dinosaurs that trace 3.8 billion years of evolution. 

One familiar figure among the collection is Leon, the larger of a pair of duck-billed hadrosaurs acquired by the museum in the early 1990s. That specimen, comprised of at least 90 percent original bone, was uncovered at the Ruth Mason Quarry in South Dakota — among tens of thousands of others of the same species. 

 Because a dinosaur skeleton can't simply walk over to its new home, each one must be disassembled, bone by bone. 

"There's no guarantee that even two of these bones belong to the same creature," said Pete Larson, president of the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, who is assisting the museum with the installation of mounts in the weeks leading up to the hall's opening. 

Because a dinosaur skeleton can't simply walk over to its new home, each one must be disassembled, bone by bone, then carefully transported on rolling carts to the Paleo Hall.

CultureMap got an exclusive look as Larson and his team of three assistants reassembled Leon the Hadrosaur, and we certainly have a new appreciation after seeing the painstaking process involved: What began as a skinny pair of legs emerged as a full, formidable creature in less than an hour and a half.

Watch that process unfold in the above video from CultureMap's Joel Luks

The HMNS Hall of Paleontology opens to museum members on Friday and to the general public on June 2. 

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Meet Leon. Photo by Whitney Radley
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The mount began as a pair of legs.  Photo by Whitney Radley
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The arms were the last to be attached.  Photo by Whitney Radley
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