Posted On: 05/16/2018 - 1:00pm, Posted By: Glenn Storrs, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology
What is that dinosaur doing here? It’s not the sort of thing that you typically find in a brewery, but this is no ordinary brewery and this is no ordinary dinosaur.
The brewery is Rhinegeist, an exciting destination for craft beer lovers in Cincinnati’s historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Founded in 2013, Rhinegeist is known for its quality beers, eclectic décor, popular hangout vibe, and sense of community participation and fun. Perhaps most importantly for our purposes, it occupies a 19th century beer (Christian Moerlein) bottling plant building with lots of space.
The dinosaur is a nearly complete skeleton of Galeamopus cf. G. pabsti (no relation to the beer of the same name!), a relatively new, poorly known sauropod. Measuring nearly 50’ in length and made up of approximately 85% original fossil bone (this is the real dinosaur, not a reproduction), the skeleton is the newest addition to Cincinnati Museum Center’s growing collection of mounted dinosaur skeletons. It is new in the sense that the mount has just been completed, but the skeleton was collected in Montana by a team of CMC staff and volunteers over the course of 4 summers between 2000 and 2004. Seven years of preparation in the laboratory, followed by several more of planning and armature construction lead us to, 18 years later, a dinosaur experience “from grain (in this case ground) to glass” as the brewers say.
So what is it doing at Rhinegeist? Over the course of the last two years, CMC’s Union Terminal home has been undergoing a complete restoration/renovation project. During the course of this work, items from our exhibits and collections have been placed around town (think airport, libraries, universities) as part of the Curate my Community initiative. In determining a temporary location for our new sauropod mount, as a public teaser for bigger and better things to come in the form of a new dinosaur gallery at Union Terminal (due to open in November, 2018), what better place than Rhinegeist? After all, dinosaur collecting and beer go hand in hand, as any field paleontologist will tell you (It’s rumored that some beer was consumed during the hot, summer excavations of Galeamopus!).
The first known Galeamopus skeleton (now in the Houston Museum of Natural Science) was actually collected in 1902 in Wyoming by William Utterback and assigned to Diplodocus in 1906 by William Holland of the Carnegie Museum. It was not until 2015 that a new genus was erected for this “small,” gracile diplodocine. Emanuel Tschopp and colleagues chose the name Galeamopus to honor the earlier workers, with a Latin translation of Wilhelm, literally “want helmut” – galea “helmet” (accusative galeam) plus opus or “need.” The name is also a play on words in that the braincase of the holotype (originally described specimen) was noted to be “brittle” and perhaps in need of a helmet. Only three skeletons, all from the approximately 150 million year old Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation, are currently recognized as belonging to Galeamopus and CMC’s is perhaps the most complete.
The event on May 15th surrounding the unveiling of our new dinosaur was Jurassic Geist. Keeping everything top secret until the moment the curtain fell was among the most difficult of tasks as the excitement built towards the very first viewing of the completed skeleton. Promotional materials were created, hints were dropped around town (including costumed, dancing dinosaurs handing out Jurassic Geist stickers), and most notably, a new dinosaur-themed beer was brewed for the occasion. Rhinegeist’s Brittlebrain is a nod to the name Galeamopus, but could just as easily refer to one’s condition after over-indulging. This excellent beer is a Belgian style golden ale and clocks in at 8.6% ABV! A limited-release, no dinosaur lover should miss this beverage, or miss seeing Galeamopus at Rhinegeist this summer!