The Manitoba Museum is home to many unusual and unique specimens. Among the most remarkable is the world’s largest complete trilobite, the holotype specimen of the species Isotelus rex. Over the years we have occasionally received requests from other museums for replicas of this striking fossil.
More than a decade ago, before the specimen ever went on exhibit, we had a mould prepared by an outside contractor who also made a number of resin replicas. These were on the shelf and ready to be painted if an order arrived. But eventually those replicas ran out, and when a new order came in from a museum in Japan last year, it was discovered that the original mould was too old and worn to be used again. A new mould was needed, which meant that we would have to remove the specimen from its exhibit in the Earth History Gallery.
So we pulled out the case, carefully slid out the fossil (this is tricky, because it weighs about as much as I do!), and wheeled it away to the artists’ studio to be worked on by Debbie Thompson and Betsy Thorsteinson. While the specimen was “on leave” from the exhibit, it was temporarily replaced by one of the existing replicas.
The following photos are Betsy’s documentation of the complex and fascinating replication process. Our artists are tremendously skilled, as indicated by the high quality of work in so many of our galleries, and by the attention to detail in the preparation of these perfect trilobite replicas.