Apatosaurus “Wiren” Femur

Conservation Spotlight | Apatosaurus “Wiren” Femur

How does the Moab Museum preserve paleontology specimens entrusted to our care?

This summer, the Museum staff partnered with Utah Friends of Paleontology (UFOP) to perform object conservation treatments on the Wiren Femur currently on exhibit in the Museum’s North Gallery. UFOP is a statewide non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to preserving Utah’s fossil resources through public education and engagement. The Moab-based Gastonia Chapter is led by President Lee Shenton and is advised by internationally renowned paleontologist Martin Lockley.

When the specimen began displaying cracks on the tip of the medial and lateral condyles (think the oval-shaped projection at the top of a femur connecting to the knee), the Moab Museum contacted UFOP, who promptly responded to stabilize the specimen. First, the team cleaned the exposed face with dry, soft brushes. Then, they applied PaleoBond, the leading adhesive for use on fossils to reinforce the fractures. The fluid was meticulously injected into the “fault lines” and cracks around both condyles to prevent future failures. Secondary and tertiary coats were applied throughout the month before the team applied PaleoSculpt color-matched epoxy filler to secure the “fault lines” around both condyles. 

The story behind the Wiren femur:

The hind leg bone on exhibit belonged to an approximately 70-foot-long sauropod weighing more than 25 tons. 152-151 million years ago, the femur was buried in an ancient sediment deposit in the Morrison Formation, found throughout Utah and Colorado. Over millions of years, it migrated to the surface of today’s Fremont River in Wayne County. The femur was discovered by hiker Paige Wiren in 2017 and collected by a Moab Museum crew including former Moab Museum director and paleontologist, John Foster, who worked in tandem with Carrie Levitt-Bussian, Collections Manager at the Natural History Museum of Utah in 2018.

To learn more about Utah Friends of Paleontology, and view photos of this spectacular discovery, visit their website at: https://utahpaleo.org/chapters/gastonia-chapter/ and https://utahpaleo.org/2021/03/19/hiker-finds-giant-bone/