full view of large turtle fossil in well lit display case

Fire, Ice and the Display of a 500 Pound Turtle Fossil

July 3, 2013

Displayed in our new exhibit, Fire, Ice and the Rise of Life, you will find a 6 ft tall, by 6 ft wide 500 pound fossil cast of a soft-shell turtle. Such a turtle would have swam in the waters around the Great Lakes Basin 50 million years ago. How does one display a 500# fossil you may ask? Well that is a question we asked as well, but as usual with the Great Lakes Aquarium staff these questions are answered with a bit of ingenuity, engineering and determination.

Using posts that we had from a previous exhibit we were able to build a structure that the Fossil will hang from as well as a frame to hide the structure.

Next ,we installed french cleats for to give the fossil piece support when it hangs from the structure.

The frame is than put into placed and anchored to the floor.
Once the frame is secure we can begin to hang the fossil. Using a pulley that can lift a ton of weight the Operations staff was able to lift the fossil into place on the newly built frame.
Hanging the trutle fossil 2Hanging the turtle fossil 1
After running some power through the floor, for lighting, and a bit of paint the exhibit is in place.


Next time you are at the aquarium feel free to ask how we received our collection or how pieces were installed.  We are always happy to share these “behind the scene” stories.