The Diversity of Life

Part of the Fighting Dinos exhibition.

The exhibition's fourth section illustrated the diversity of life in the Gobi, how specific finds have increased our understanding of dinosaur growth, behavior, and variation, and how these specimens help scientists understand how groups of animals are related to one another, shedding light on the main lines of evolution.

This section, which includes a number of animals previously unknown to science, describes dinosaurs' nesting and parenting behavior, and discusses unique features of various species' fossil nests. In addition to the Fighting Dinosaurs, other spectacular specimens in this section include the famous nesting oviraptorid, a troödontid nest with a fossil hatchling, and a protoceratopsian nest with embryo specimens. Next to these nests are fossil juvenile protoceratopsians and oviraptorids, illustrating the stages of dinosaur development, and hinting at the parenting behaviors of dinosaurs.

Troödontid Nest with Hatchling
Baby Protoceratops Fossil

Surrounding the Fighting Dinosaurs are casts of a variety of dinosaurs embedded in a stratified wall to represent fossils buried in the Gobi sandstone, along with another wall containing research specimens that include several new discoveries by Museum scientists, one of which is a new troödontid dinosaur named Byronosaurus jaffei. All these fossils provide excellent examples of how scientists determine new species, how new species are named, and what differentiates one species from another. This section also discusses new techniques, such as CAT scans, that are being used by researchers at the Museum and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences to examine these new discoveries, and to determine the identities of the animals and their relationships to other species.