By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
MELBOURNE -- After 10 months of anticipation, the Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science is excited to welcome home a piece of history, dating back to the Ice Age.
On Saturday, Aug. 17, the Brevard Museum will host the "Grand Unveiling of the Articulated Mastodon," from 6-8 p.m. Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish, III, has the distinguished honor of unveiling this incredible piece of history.
The cost to attend the unveiling is $50, and funds raised during the event will benefit the Brevard Museum, which features Florida history, focusing on Brevard County. Donations made are tax deductible, as the Brevard Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
"The mastodon left the Brevard Museum on Oct. 17, 2012 and returned on July 15," said Rachel Burris, director of education for the Cocoa-based museum said. "The base was still being built, which is one of the reasons the unveiling is not until Aug. 17."
The mastodon was articulated at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, and Mrs. Burris said that the mastodon returning to the Brevard Museum is actually a cast of the one in Gainesville.
"The articulation process began with sanding the bones. As they are cast, some of the pieces needed to be sanded to match the consistency of the original bones and to sand mold marks away," Mrs. Burris said. "This is a time-consuming, painstaking process in order to make the bones look as authentic as possible."
Once the bones are cast, they are then covered with a layer of base paint and rods are inserted, which allow the skeleton to stand without the assistance of wires.
Mrs. Burris said that after the rods are inserted, the bones are then painted to match the original color and appearance of the real bones.
The mastodon will join a few friends from the Ice Age era, including a ground sloth and saber-tooth cat.
"The Brevard Museum is one of three museums in Florida with a fully articulated mastodon, saber-tooth cat and giant ground sloth," Mrs. Burris added.
One thing about the mastodon at the Brevard Museum will set it apart from others in Florida.
"We are excited that our mastodon is the only mastodon articulated in a state of movement," Mrs. Burris said. "The other articulated mastodons in Florida are all in a forward-facing stance, while ours -- without giving too much away before the unveiling -- is in a more animated pose. The fluidity of the mastodon's movements are easy to imagine seeing him in this pose."
Another exciting portion of the unveiling will be the announcement of the mastodon's name, which will be announced by John Jeremiah. Mr. Jeremiah donated the mastodon to the Brevard Museum officially in 2010.
Between Dec. 1, 2012 and April 1, 2013, Brevard County residents had a chance to submit and vote on a name for the mastodon. With more than 100 submissions, the Brevard Museum Board of Trustees narrowed the field to 10 names: Wooley, Bones, Mason, Trunky, Dawn, Millie, Tusker, Humphrey, Miles and Manny.
Mrs. Burris said that one name was a clear favorite among voters.
Articulating the mastodon has been a dream project of Nancy Rader since 2009.
"Having the mastodon articulated greatly alters the By-Gone Beasts exhibit, in that it allows for the presentation of three Ice Age mammals to be exhibited in a way that demonstrates their natural habitat in Florida," said Mrs. Rader, director of the museum. "Walking into the By-Gone Beasts exhibit, with three iconic mammals of the Ice Age all fully articulated, gives visitors a chance to fully appreciate life from more than 10,000 years ago."
Mrs. Burris added to Mrs. Rader's excitement, saying that having the articulated mastodon is important to the Brevard Museum in many different ways.
"We have seen an influx already of both membership renewals and new memberships," she said. "We have received a lot of enthusiastic support from the community, the Brevard Museum Guild and Board of Trustees to see the mastodon assembled."
Mrs. Burris added that having the mastodon articulated in an animated pose assists in making the Brevard Museum a cultural destination for visitors and a source of pride for the Brevard County community.
"People should attend this event to support the museum, of course," Mrs. Burris said. "But, really, they should attend to enjoy the excitement of being the first views of the articulated mastodon."
The "Grand Unveiling of the Articulated Mastodon" will be Saturday, Aug. 17 from 6-8 p.m. at the Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science. Special guests include Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish, III, John Jeremiah, Don Serbousek, and the crew from the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Cost to attend is $50, and reservations must be made by Aug. 14.
The Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science is located at 2201 Michigan Ave., Cocoa.
For more information or to make a reservation, call (321) 632-1830.