- Associated Press - Thursday, January 6, 2011

COLUMBUS, OHIO (AP) - A 10,000-year-old mastodon was mostly cooperative Thursday as an eight-person crew at the Ohio Historical Society began the delicate operation of taking the skeleton apart so it can be reassembled in a more flattering position _ with the beast’s rear end not so prominent.

Workers started by removing the front and hind legs from the mastodon, which is supported by a steel bracket. The head and tusks were to follow.

“We’ve not had any catastrophes, which is always very comforting,” said Bob Glotzhober, the museum’s senior curator of natural history.

The mastodon move was undertaken to provide a better view of the exhibit. The giant rear had been greeting museum visitors coming in through a lower-level entry that later became the main entrance to provide better access for the disabled.

The project began on schedule Thursday morning and was on track to wrap up Saturday, Glotzhober said. The only potential source of trouble was a bent bolt that had been holding one hind leg in place.

“We just can’t imagine how we’re going to get that bolt, with all those twists, back in to that hole,” Glotzhober said.

The nearly 1-ton, 10-foot-tall mastodon is named Conway after the man who unearthed it in western Ohio in 1887. Spectators watching the deconstruction on Thursday included proud descendants of Newton S. Conway.

Charles Virts, 69, a great-grandson who lives on a farm in Mechanicsburg, Ohio, said family members appreciated the care the museum has taken with Conway’s find.

“It’s what I call a kid magnet,” he said. “I bring my 11-year-old grandson and 9-year-old granddaughter in here, and that’s the first and about the only thing they want to see.”

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Online:

Ohio Historical Society: http://ohsweb.ohiohistory.org/