Fossil museum opens in Gangnam

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Fossil museum opens in Gangnam

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Stegodon, Ammonite, Trilobites

The Gangnam Eulji Hospital hosted the opening ceremony of the Old Story Museum on June 27, which houses a collection of 210 fossils and 230 ores for those interested in archeological valuables.

The hospital building previously had fossils on display, but with the launch of the new museum, its collection has significantly expanded.

The Old Story Museum, set up on the second and fourth floors, also houses a separate lounge where visitors can watch rotating video clips of fossils and specimens.

In contrast to other domestic natural history museums, many of which primarily display fossil replicas, nearly all the items presented at the hospital are genuine and internationally recognized for their academic value, according to a museum official.

“All the displays in the museum are genuine except for one,” said Kim Sang-hee, a guide at the exhibition, adding that the only replica in the museum is that of a fossilized boa constrictor. The original, displayed at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in the U.S. state of Texas, is the most well-preserved of all snake fossils.

Similarly, the fossil of the garfish (Lepisosteus), a maritime predator in the Eocene epoch that started approximately 55 million years ago, is the biggest at the museum and the most well-preserved among those discovered in the past 100 years. The scale of the fish is clearly marked, as is its side line.

Another Eocene fish, the bowfin, at about a meter (3.2 feet) long, was petrified while holding prey in its mouth. It was fossilized along with a smaller fish swimming beside it.

One intriguing item on display boasts nearly 50 trilobites, a type of extinct marine arthropod, of various sizes. It is the biggest collection of trilobite fossils in the world.

Even the most secluded shelves boast rare fossils. A fossilized Oviraptor fetus, a small type of theropod dinosaur, for example, was among other items on display on a bottom shelf. The small bones of the fetus had been preserved inside a halved egg shell.

Oviraptors, which lived in the Cretaceous period as long as 145 million years ago, are a flightless dinosaur with traits similar to birds.

The museum contains an array of items, including molds of the Hypacrosaurus, also known as the duckbill dinosaur; Ichthyosaurus, a fish-shaped dinosaur from the Mesozoic era, and flies and mosquitoes solidified in amber. The museum operates from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and is closed on Mondays. Admission is free.

BY AHN HYO-SUNG, KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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