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Professor of Biology Anthony Swineherd stands with Linda the edmonotsaurus, a nearly complete dinosaur skeleton excavated with the help of Hillsdale College students in SouthDakota, that was donated to the college's Daniel M. Fisk Museum of Natural History in the Strosacker Science Center. Madeline Fry | Collegian
Pro­fessor of Biology Anthony Swinehart stands with Linda the edmonot­saurus, a nearly com­plete dinosaur skeleton exca­vated with the help of Hillsdale College stu­dents in South­Dakota, that was donated to the col­lege’s Daniel M. Fisk Museum of Natural History in the Stro­sacker Science Center. Madeline Fry | Col­legian

Hillsdale College became one of four places in Michigan to display a full dinosaur skeleton Friday with the addition of an edmon­tosaurus to the Daniel M. Fisk Museum of Natural History in the Stro­sacker Science Center.

The nearly com­plete remains, nick­named “Linda” for the woman who found the fossil, is a donation from dinosaur-enthu­siast Darla Roberts, who Pro­fessor of Biology Anthony Swinehart said wanted to help small museums with limited resources. Because dinosaur skeletons are large, expensive, and hard to acquire, only a few small natural history museums are able to display one, Swinehart said.

Several dozen stu­dents and faculty gathered in the museum on Friday for the unveiling of the 26-feet-long dinosaur. As a speaker boomed the “Jurassic Park” theme song, Swinehart, the museum’s curator, dropped the curtain cov­ering the skeleton.

“The people present at the unveiling, with the exception of about a dozen who exca­vated it and pre­pared it, were the first living organisms to see Linda in about 66 million years,” he said.

The skeleton is mostly com­plete, with real bones from other skeletons as well as casts from real bones replacing what is missing.

“The only appendage missing from the mount is one of the fore­limbs,” Swinehart said.

An amateur fossil hunter, Linda Bergan, dis­covered the dinosaur in South Dakota in 2013. As a part of an inde­pendent study with Swinehart, seniors Matt Hoenig and Hee-Sang Lee assisted Bergan and stu­dents from the Uni­versity of North Georgia with the dinosaur’s exca­vation.

“Spe­cific bones that I worked on include some of the ver­tebrae, the pubis — one of the hip bones — and the ribs,” Hoenig said. “There’s no sub­stitute for the hot sun, searing wind, and excitement of finding another bone. Digging up a dinosaur is metic­ulous, messy, and chal­lenging, and this is what makes it so rewarding.”

Swinehart had con­tacted Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Anthro­pology Steve Nicklas at the Uni­versity of North Georgia about oppor­tu­nities for Hillsdale stu­dents to study pale­on­tology in the field. Over the past few years, stu­dents have helped excavate several types of dinosaurs, including a tyran­nosaurus rex, tricer­atops, edmon­tosaurus, and anky­losaurs.

Linda is an edmon­tosaurus, a type of dinosaur with a sig­nature duck bill. Her kind were her­bi­vores and prey for the tyran­nosaurus rex. They could travel on two legs or four.

The museums at the Uni­versity of Michigan and Michigan State Uni­versity as well as the Cran­brook Institute of Science all display dinosaur skeletons.

Being only one of a few schools with such an exhibit, Swinehart said he hopes it will attract more stu­dents to the museum. It worked for junior Jon Coote, who attended the unveiling, he said.

“I used to pass through there maybe once a week,” Coote said. “But now I’m going to pass through there a lot more fre­quently.”

Bringing one of these skeletons back to Hillsdale not only ful­fills a childhood dream of his, Swinehart said, but also ben­efits the college by inspiring stu­dents.

“Isn’t that a nice Christmas gift?” he said, adding, “We didn’t have a tree big enough to fit it under.”