"DINOSAURS: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries" represents landmark research that dramatically is changing the public's perception of these astonishing prehistoric creatures. This groundbreaking exhibition reveals how current thinking about dinosaur biology has changed over the past two decades and highlights ongoing cutting-edge research by scientists and paleontologists around the world.
Using a combination of recent major fossil finds, captivating computer simulations, and provocative life-size models, "Dinosaurs" breaks through the long-held preconceived notions of these ancient beasts while introducing a dynamic new vision of dinosaurs and the individuals who study them. Examining in greater detail than ever before the scientific sleuthing and the array of investigative tools--from bioengineering computer software to CT scans--the exhibition presents the most up-to-date look at how researchers are reinterpreting many of the most persistent and puzzling mysteries of dinosaurs: what they looked like, how they behaved, and how they moved, as well as the complex and hotly debated theories of why (or even whether) they became extinct. "After visitors see this exhibition, they will never think of dinosaurs in the same way again," proclaims Ellen V. Futter, president of the American Museum of Natural History.
"Dinosaurs" features a wide range of fossil specimens and casts, many on public display for the first time. A major highlight is a 700-square-foot walk-through diorama depicting the rich diversity of animals living in a Mesozoic forest in China--the most detailed re-creation of a prehistoric environment ever constructed. Visitors can stroll back in time through the forest as it existed 130,000,000 years ago and come lace to face with many of the amazing creatures that lived there, including the largest Mesozoic mammal yet uncovered, the badger-sized Repenomamus giganticus.
Another highlight is Bambiraptor feinbergi, an incredibly well-preserved dromaeosaur fossil that, along with numerous other fossils, provides strong evidence that dinosaurs are related closely to modern birds. These fossils present an intriguing thesis: The great dinosaur extinction that occurred 65,000,000 years ago was not final. In fact, dinosaurs have survived and prospered into the present age and walk among us, or more often fly above us, as modern birds. Birds are described as today's surviving theropod dinosaurs--two-legged predators characterized by large brains and stereoscopic vision. Modern birds share more than 50 anatomical features with the great tyrannosaurs and velociraptors, including a wishbone, swiveling wrists, and three forward-pointing toes.
"Dinosaurs" also features a new full-size cast of a Tyrannosaurus rex in a dynamic pose and numerous recently discovered fossils of prehistoric animals, including Gorgosaurus, Psittacosaurus, Protoceratops, and many other specimens from around the world. Several interactive computer simulations and animations have been developed, as well as a number of videos offering behind-the-scenes glimpses of fieldwork and discussions among leading scientists currently investigating the mysteries of dinosaur biology.
"This exhibition illustrates how scientists are using new ideas, new discoveries, and new technologies to revolutionize our understanding of dinosaurs," declares Mark A. Norell, curator of "Dinosaurs" and chairman and curator of the Division of Paleontology at the Museum of Natural History. "Our work reaches across many disciplines involving paleontologists, biomechanical engineers, paleobotanists, and others to showcase how we go about reconstructing the mysterious life of dinosaurs."
"Science is an ongoing and incredibly dynamic pursuit," suggests Joel A. Bartsch, president of the Houston Museum of Natural Science. "This remarkable exhibition gives visitors a chance to see how new discoveries often compel us to re-evaluate what we think we know, sometimes with quite surprising results. …