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Museum exhibit wins international award

A model of the feathered Hell Creek Alvarezsaurid, created by Serbian artist Boban Filipovic for Dickinson Dinosaur Museum, has won the the Lanzendorf-National Geographic paleoart sculpture prize for 2018. The model can be seen as part of the museum's "Claws!" exhibit. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)

A new Dickinson Dinosaur Museum model has won an international award.

The feathered dinosaur, a Hell Creek Alvarezsaurid, was created by Serbian artist and paleontologist Boban Filipovic, and is based on fossils found by the museum's team of badlands paleontologists in 2015.

The Lanzendorf-National Geographic paleoart sculpture prize for 2018 was received by Dr. Denver Fowler this month at the annual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, held in Albuquerque, NM.

The award is given to a single sculpture per year.

Fowler, museum paleontologist and curator, called the award "pretty amazing."

"We didn't know which one of our models had won the award," he said. "When they put this up on the big board of the meeting, we were quite surprised."

The model is Fowler's favorite of the museum's feathered exhibits, which also includes an acheroraptor.

"It's more nuanced," he said. "I think it looks like taxidermy. It looks so real it basically looks like a stuffed animal, rather than a model."

Alvarezaurids were "strange little dinosaurs" with a huge hand claw that lived in North Dakota 66 million years ago, Fowler said.

"People used to think for a while they only had one claw in the hand," he said, "but we now know they had three claws, like most dinosaurs, it's just the other two claws were so tiny they're very rarely found as fossils."

Fowler guided the design of the model, requesting a pose that made the dinosaur seem more like a "silly friend."

The feathered exhibits, in addition to being unique, have great value, Fowler said.

"Aficionados of dinosaur exhibits will see these and recognize that these really are the best feathered reconstructions you can see anywhere," he said. "It reinforces the drive to make this a world class exhibit."

Museum Director Robert Fuhrman applauded Filipovic's achievement.

"It's pretty cool," he said. "The artist sent us in-progress shots all along as he was working on both the models and it's neat to just watch that process and see the finished product. They're really beautiful pieces."

He added, "I'm so happy for the artist that his work was recognized."

The models add to the prestige of Dickinson's museum, Fuhrman said.

"It's neat to be associated with a piece of art that's recognized for its excellence," he said. "The fact that we can say it's ours, it's what you can see here, and the fact that it's based on the latest trends in paleo-research, it all comes together and makes a neat statement."

The two feathered dinosaur models can be seen on display as part of the Dickinson Dinosaur Museum's "Claws!" exhibit.

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