Pterosaurs Soar above Oakland Interactive Exhibit Lands at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History

By Gilmore, John F.,, III | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), January 30, 2016 | Go to article overview

Pterosaurs Soar above Oakland Interactive Exhibit Lands at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History


Gilmore, John F.,, III, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Flap your arms and the 150-pound digital flying reptile follows onscreen. Lean forward and the prehistoric creature dives into the ocean to snag a juicy fish.

This is just one of the interactive displays featured in "Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs," a paleontology exhibition that opens today at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Oakland.

On loan from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City through May 22, the exhibit contains rare fossils of pterosaurs, flying reptiles that lived alongside dinosaurs. It includes life-size models and digital displays that bring these creatures to life.

"Pterosaurs were not dinosaurs but were closely related to them," said Michael Habib, a paleontologist at the University of Southern California who helped to create the exhibit. "The winged reptile's closest living relatives would be birds and crocodiles, but they evolved flight independently from birds."

As a research associate for both the Carnegie Museum and the Dinosaur Institute at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Mr. Habib explained the exhibit Friday in a media preview. He reconstructs the anatomy, physiology and motion of extinct flying species. He worked at Chatham University for three years before moving to Los Angeles.

Mr. Habib said hot spots for pterosaur fossils are in Brazil, China and Bavaria, Germany. In Solnhofen, a municipality in Bavaria, pterosaurs and other fossils are found in limestone mines, where the fine sediments perfectly preserved the bones.

More than 150 species have been discovered. Pterosaurs were diverse creatures; some species lived off the sea like aquatic birds and others lived on the land, hunting insects and small dinosaurs. …

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