(AP) - Indiana University is building a replica of a giant ground sloth’s
skeleton that was once a star attraction in its natural history collection
but was removed to make room for students during an enrollment surge
following World War II.
Officials said the
project aims to teach people about the megalonyx jeffersonii that roved
around Indiana thousands of years ago while also shedding light on an
unfortunate decision in IU history, The Herald-Times reported.
“It’s a mixed tale
of regret and loss, but it’s also a promise for better care for our
collections across the university system as we move into our third century,”
said Gary Motz, assistant director for information services at the Indiana
Geological and Water Survey.
Some bones from the
sloth’s 10 1/2-foot-tall skeleton that were tossed have been recovered,
along with skeletons of a mastodon and a mammoth.
“According to some
alumni records in the IU archives, they were thrown out a window,” said
Polly Root Sturgeon, outreach coordinator at the Indiana Geological and
This summer, the
sloth’s remaining bones will be recreated using 3D printing and the missing
ones will be cut from cardboard with a laser to reconstruct the skeleton for
a traveling exhibition tied to IU’s 200th anniversary year. The IU Office of
The Bicentennial subsidized the project with a $25,000 grant.
August, the imitation skeleton will take a journey throughout all 92
counties in the state before returning to Bloomington.
Sturgeon added that
she hopes the project will make people more aware of the school’s unique
“You don’t often
hear about large skeletons being thrown out,” she said. “It’s an interesting
aspect of IU’s history.”