by AMNH on
Something really, really big is coming to the Museum this month.
Starting January 15, a cast of a 122-foot-long dinosaur—one of the largest ever discovered—will become the new centerpiece of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Orientation Center on the fourth floor. The new addition will graze the gallery's approximately 19-foot-high ceilings and will be just a bit too long to fit completely into the space. Instead, it's neck and head will extend out toward the elevator banks, welcoming visitors to the "fossil floor."
The cast is based on a species of dinosaur so new that it has not yet been formally named by the paleontologists who discovered it in Argentina's Patagonia region in 2014. The remains were excavated by a team in the desert near La Flecha—135 miles west of Trelew, Patagonia—by a team from the museum of Paleontology Egidio Freuglio led by Jose Luis Carballido and Diego Pol, who received his Ph.D. degree here at the Museum.
Researchers have inferred that this dinosaur, a giant herbivore that belongs to a group known as titanosaurs, weighed in at around 70 tons. The gigantic animal lived in Patagonia between 95 and 100 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous period, when the region was mostly forest.
"Titanosaur fossils have been unearthed on every content, and an abundance of discoveries in recent years has helped us appreciate the deep diversity of this group," says Michael Novacek, the Museum's provost for science and curator in the Division of Paleontology.
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," says Mark Norell, Macaulay Curator and Chair of the Division of Paleontology, as well as the curator of the upcoming exhibition Dinosaurs Among Us, opening March 21. " 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."
In preparation for adding this colossal new exhibit, in September the Museum removed a life-size—but, by comparison, diminutive—model of a juvenile Barosaurus that had been on display since 1996.
The Titanosaur exhibit is free with Museum admission and for Members.
Generous support for the Titanosaur exhibit has been provided by the Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Foundation.