Gigantic Dinosaur Inspires New Permanent Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History

A team member is dwarfed by a bone of the gigantic dinosaur excavated in Patagonia. Courtesy of Dr. Alejandro Otero

A team member is dwarfed by a bone of the gigantic dinosaur excavated in Patagonia.

Courtesy of Dr. Alejandro Otero


Photo credit: Dr. Alejandro Otero

 

122-Foot-Long Titanosaur Cast is Part of a Special Year of

Dinosaur Events, Exhibitions, and Digital Offerings

 

Generations of visitors have flocked to see the renowned blue whale and iconic Tyrannosaurus rex, among other fossil dinosaurs, at the American Museum of Natural History. In January 2016, the Museum will add another must-see exhibit when a cast of a 122-foot-long dinosaur will be installed on the fourth floor. Paleontologists have inferred that this dinosaur, a giant herbivore that belongs to a group known as titanosaurs, weighed in at around 77 tons—as much as 14 or 15 African elephants.

In preparation for adding this colossal new exhibit, the Museum closed the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Orientation Center in September to remove the hall’s current incumbent: a life-sized—but, by comparison, diminutive—fleshed-out model of a juvenile Barosaurus that has been on display since the completion of the fourth floor in June 1996. The new, much larger occupant will graze the gallery’s approximately 19-foot-high ceilings and, at 122 feet (37.2 meters), is just a bit too long to fit completely into the space. Instead, its neck and head will extend out towards the elevator banks, welcoming visitors to the “dinosaur” floor.

“This thrilling display dramatically brings to the public one of the latest and largest discoveries in paleontology, a field that is experiencing rapid advancement right now, and one of longstanding expertise for this Museum,” said Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History. “When the monumental titanosaur cast is unveiled at the gateway of our fossil halls, it will join such beloved Museum icons as the giant blue whale, the great canoe, and, of course, Tyrannosaurus rex, as a destination, anchoring a journey of discovery for visitors of all ages.”

“Titanosaur fossils have been unearthed on every continent, and an abundance of discoveries in recent years has helped us appreciate the deep diversity of this group,” said Michael Novacek, the Museum’s Senior Vice President and Provost for Science.

This species of dinosaur is so new that it has not yet been formally named by the paleontologists who discovered it in 2014 in Argentina’s Patagonia region. The remains were excavated in the desert near La Flecha—135 miles west of Trelew, Patagonia—by a team from the Museum of Paleontology Egidio Feruglio led by JoséLuis Carballido and Diego Pol, who received his Ph.D. here at the American Museum of Natural History. The new species lived in the forests of today’s Patagonia about 100 to 95 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous period. It is one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered. The story of this new dinosaur’s discovery will be the focus of a BBC special release in January.

The January unveiling of the Museum’s new dinosaur is part of a special year of events, exhibitions, and digital offerings that highlight the dramatic developments in paleontology over the past few decades. “Paleontology has become less geological and more biological in the last 20 years or so,” said Mark Norell, Macaulay Curator in the Division of Paleontology and the division’s chair. “Our access to advanced and extremely precise scientific tools like CT scanners and other x-ray imaging techniques lets us ask questions beyond ‘what species is this, and when did it die?’ Now we can look at complex topics like the evolution of dinosaur brains and the presence and color of dinosaur feathers.”

The Museum’s Division of Paleontology is home to one of the largest and most diverse collections of its kind in the world with a collection of 6 million specimens, including more than 5 million fossil invertebrates and nearly 1 million fossil vertebrates, gathered over more than a century of expeditions. Expeditions continue today with annual fieldwork in some of the richest fossil localities in the world. Since 1990, Curators Michael Novacek and Mark Norell have led expeditions to the Gobi Desert with colleagues from the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, yielding spectacular discoveries of dinosaur, bird, and mammal fossils.

The spotlight on dinosaurs continues next spring with the new exhibition Dinosaurs Among Us (on view at the Museum from March 19, 2016, through January 2, 2017), whichwill examine how one group of dinosaurs evolved into birds, as well as a dinosaur symposium, a weekend of dinosaur programs, and a new dinosaur app from the Museum.

Generous support for this project has been provided by the Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Foundation.

The AMNH-Mongolian Academy of Sciences expeditions are generously supported by the Margaret and Will Hearst Paleontological Research Fund.

The Museum gratefully acknowledges the Richard and Karen LeFrak Exhibition and Education Fund for its support of Dinosaurs Among Us.

Dinosaurs Among Us is proudly supported by Chase Private Client.

 

American Museum of Natural History (amnh.org)

The American Museum of Natural History, founded in 1869, is one of the world’s preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions. The Museum encompasses 45 permanent exhibition halls, including the Rose Center for Earth and Space and the Hayden Planetarium, as well as galleries for temporary exhibitions. It is home to the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, New York State’s official memorial to its 33rd governor and the nation’s 26th president, and a tribute to Roosevelt’s enduring legacy of conservation. The Museum’s five active research divisions and three cross-disciplinary centers support approximately 200 scientists, whose work draws on a world-class permanent collection of more than 33 million specimens and artifacts, as well as specialized collections for frozen tissue and genomic and astrophysical data, and one of the largest natural history libraries in the world. Through its Richard Gilder Graduate School, it is the only American museum authorized to grant the Ph.D. degree and, beginning in 2015, the Master of Arts in Teaching degree, which began as a pilot in 2012 and is the only non-university affiliated such program in the United States. Annual attendance has grown to approximately 5 million, and the Museum’s exhibitions and Space Shows can be seen in venues on five continents. The Museum’s website and collection of apps for mobile devices extend its collections, exhibitions, and educational programs to millions more beyond its walls. Visit amnh.org for more information.

 

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