About the Exhibition
The World's Largest Dinosaurs (April 16, 2011-January 2, 2012), a new exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, goes beyond traditional fossil shows to reveal how dinosaurs actually lived by taking visitors into the amazing anatomy of a uniquely super-sized group of dinosaurs: the long-necked and long-tailed sauropods, which ranged in size from 15 to 150 feet long.
Drawing on the latest science that looks in part to existing organisms to understand these extinct giants, The World's Largest Dinosaurs will answer such intriguing questions as how an extremely large animal breathes, eats, moves, and survives by illuminating how size and scale are related to basic biological functions.
Innovative interactive exhibits--including the exhibition centerpiece, a life-sized, fleshed-out model of a 60-foot- long, 11-foot-tall female Mamenchisaurus, known for its remarkable, 30-foot neck--will take visitors inside these giants' bodies, shedding light on how heart rate, respiration, metabolism, and reproduction are linked to size. An interactive excavation at the end of the exhibition will introduce visitors to how dinosaurs are discovered in the field through a replicated dig site.
About the Curators
Mark A. Norell
Curator and Chair, Division of Paleontology
For the last two decades, Mark Norell has been one of the team leaders of the joint American Museum of Natural History/Mongolian Academy of Sciences expeditions to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. With the discovery of extraordinarily well-preserved fossils in Mongolia, Dr. Norell and the team have generated new ideas about bird origins and the groups of dinosaurs to which modern birds are most closely related. Dr. Norell, who came to the American Museum of Natural History in 1989, was one of the Gobi Desert Expedition team members who discovered Ukhaa Tolgod in 1993, the world's richest vertebrate fossil site dating from the Cretaceous. Among the discoveries are the first embryo of a meat-eating dinosaur, the primitive avialian Mononykus, and an Oviraptor found nesting on a brood of eggs, the first evidence of parental care among dinosaurs. In addition to field work in the Gobi, Patagonia, the Chilean Andes, and the Sahara, Dr. Norell was part of the team that in 1998 announced the discovery in northeastern China of two 120-million-year-old dinosaur species, both of which show unequivocal evidence of true feathers. Currently, he continues work on the evolutionary relationships of dinosaurs and modern birds, has named new dinosaurs like Alioramus and Byronosaurus, and has developed new ways of looking at fossils using CT scans and imaging.
Dr. Norell has also curated previous Museum exhibitions Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries (May 2005), Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids (May 2007, with Laurel Kendall and Richard Ellis), and Traveling the Silk Road: Ancient Pathway to the Modern World(November 2009). Recent books include Discovering Dinosaurs (1995), A Nest of Dinosaurs (2000), Unearthing the Dragon (2005), and the coffee-table book The Dinosaur Hunters: The Extraordinary Story of the Men and Women Who Discovered Prehistoric Life, published with co-author Lowell Dingus in 2008. Dr. Norell came to the American Museum of Natural History in 1989 from Yale University, where he was a lecturer in the Department of Biology. In 1988 he earned his Ph.D. in biology from Yale, where, since 1991, he has been Adjunct Assistant Professor of biology.
Dr. P. Martin Sander
Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology, University of Bonn, Germany
Serving in various functions, P. Martin Sander has been at the Division of Paleontology of the Steinmann Institute of the University of Bonn since 1990, including over 10 years as the curator of its Goldfuss Museum. After his undergraduate work at the University of Freiburg in Germany, Dr. Sander obtained a Master's degree at the University of Texas at Austin in 1984 and a Ph.D. from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, in 1989. Since then, he has divided his research interests between more traditional work in paleontology such as excavating and studying Triassic marine reptiles around the globe, and a more biological approach to extinct vertebrates, using the microstructure of fossil bone as a clue to life history and evolution, an interest he developed as a postdoctoral scholar in Paris in 1990. An outgrowth of this work was a seminal study on the microstructure of reptilian, including dinosaurian, tooth enamel. A spectacular application was the proof, published in 2006, that similar to the Channel Island mammoth, dinosaurs were subject to island dwarfing. The study of dinosaur life history eventually led to the recognition that the largest of them all, the sauropod dinosaurs, represent a challenge to evolutionary biologists trying to understand their unique body size.
In 2004, Dr. Sander was able to obtain major funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG) for the study of this topic and since then has headed DFG Research Unit 533 "Biology of the Sauropod Dinosaurs: The Evolution of Gigantism". This research unit has brought together expertise from all over Central Europe on topics as seemingly unrelated as materials science, animal nutrition, and biomechanics to focus on the paleobiological question: What were sauropod dinosaurs like as living animals and how did they get so large? Dr. Sander and his collegues have come to the realization that understanding dinosaur evolution opens up a new perspective on the group we belong to, the mammals. Since 1987, Dr. Sander has authored numerous scientifc papers and books on his research and since 1995 has trained many graduate students at the University of Bonn. He has also served as an external examiner on dissertation committees in many European countries.
His research interest are the major events in the evolution of tetrapod vertebrates and how the fossil record helps us understand them. Martin's specific expertise is the microstructure of dinosaur bone and the diversity and evolution of marine reptiles.