The University of Manchester has launched a campaign to bring back “April” the Tenontosaurus. Manchester Museum is asking for public support to install a stunning Tenontosaurus fossilised skeleton, one of the most complete specimens of this Early Cretaceous ornithopod ever found.

The Museum is hoping to raise £10,000 GBP ($11,280.00 USD), to enable the Tenontosaurus to be restored and installed in the Dinosaurs and Fossils gallery as an exhibit with the 110-million-year-old fossil bones in their correct anatomical positions.

The fossilised remains of April the Tenontosaurus laid out in anatomical position.
The fossilised remains of “April” the Tenontosaurus partially laid out in anatomical position. Picture credit: The University of Manchester.

The Tenontosaurus specimen (MANCH LL.12275) was purchased by the University of Manchester in 1999. It has been the subject of a recent scientific paper which confirmed the presence of gastroliths (stomach stones), the first evidence of gastroliths to be identified in a derived member of the Ornithopoda.

To read about this scientific research: “April” the Tenontosaurus Reveals Her Secrets.

Bring Back “April”

The stunning fossil specimen comes from Montana, and it is affectionately named “April” after the wife of Barry James who originally prepared the fossil for display. When first put on show to the public it was portrayed in an upright position, like a super-sized kangaroo with its tail resting on the ground. However, research from Earth Sciences students from the University of Manchester has shed light on how the skeleton would have walked and posed in life.

Tenonotosaurus skeleton made ready for exhibition.
The original mount of “April” the Tenontosaurus. The skeleton was dismantled and put into storage when a replica of a T. rex skeleton made its debut at the museum. Picture credit: The University of Manchester.

Thousands of Hours of Restoration Work is Required

The Curator of the Earth Science Collections at the Manchester Museum David Gelsthorpe outlined the aims of the fund-raising effort and explained some of the problems that this restoration project will pose.

He commented:

“April is a Tenontosaurus purchased by Manchester Museum in 1999 and was previously displayed standing upright. Over the past few years, we have been working with a team of Earth Sciences students from the University of Manchester to carefully study April’s bones and find out more about her. Using their palaeontology skills and computer modelling, their research has helped us to better understand how she would have moved on all fours. As well as changing the way the skeleton stands, over 10,000 hours of careful conservation work is required to restore its bones.”

The Museum is requesting donations to help bring “April” back to her best and to permit her to be once again an integral part of the Museum’s Dinosaurs and Fossils Gallery.

To read more about this campaign and to make a donation: Support Manchester Museum Help Bring “April” Back.

The restored skull of "April" the Tenontosaurus
Tenontosaurus skull in left lateral view. The stunning and beautifully restored “April” the Tenontosaurus skull. Picture credit: The University of Manchester.

A New Dinosaur Display

If the fund raising succeeds than the Tenontosaurus specimen will form the focal point of a brand-new exhibition devoted entirely to the Dinosauria, planned for April 2023. Visitors will have the opportunity to view prehistoric giants, such as “Stan” the Tyrannosaurus rex cast and to learn about British dinosaur fossil discoveries. The demise of the Dinosauria and many other types of animals and plants as a result of a mass extinction event, some sixty-six million years ago, will be linked to today’s problems of climate change and the current rate of extinction.

Manchester Museum.
The front entrance of the Manchester Museum, a neo-Gothic building that houses approximately 4.5 million artefacts from the natural sciences and human history. A new dinosaur exhibit is scheduled to open in February 2023. Picture credit: The University of Manchester.

Plans for the new dinosaur exhibit are part of a larger scheme of improvements planned for Manchester Museum which has been entitled “Hello Future”.

To play your part and contribute to “April’s” restoration, please visit: Support Manchester Museum. Every donation will go towards helping to put “April” back on display.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a media release from Manchester Museum in the compilation of this article.

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