Did you know that fossilized footprints and not bones are the earliest evidence of dinosaurs and their relatives? This is only one of the many amazing facts you’ll learn at the Canadian Museum of Nature’s new Ultimate Dinosaurs exhibit this summer!
According to the special exhibit, which is running until Sept. 5, 2016, paleontologists working in Poland discovered 250 million-year-old tracks made by a “dinosaurmorph;” a group of animals that is mostly comprised of dinosaurs. The exhibit notes that the footprints found are “20 million years older than the oldest-known fossilized dinosaur bones.”
But this impressive and interactive exhibit presents much more than interesting facts. On the museum’s fourth floor, you’ll find 16 “fully-articulated” skeletons of dinosaurs from the Southern Hemisphere (South America, Africa and Madagascar), including the immense skull of a Carcharodontosaurus. These are dinosaurs like you’ve never seen before.
According to the exhibit, fossils of Carcharodontosaurus were originally found in the Sahara Desert in 1927 and in Egypt later on. But unfortunately, the exhibit notes that nearly all of the specimens of this formidable predator were destroyed during the bombing of Germany during WWII and few have been found since. According to the exhibit, the skull, which measures more than 1.5 metres in length, is the only complete Carcharodontosaurus skull known to be in existence.
In a press release, the museum noted that the dinosaurs on display in Ultimate Dinosaurs are from the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, which existed roughly 145 million years ago. This supercontinent, the museum said, eventually split into South America, Africa, Madagascar, Australia and Antarctica. “[These dinosaurs] are bigger, more bizarre, and absolutely a ‘must-see’ this summer,” the museum said.
Now, you might think that all of this prehistoric information is a bit difficult to understand, specially for little ones, but the exhibit presents information in a fun and simple way. In front of each skeleton, you’ll find a breakdown of important facts as well as an interactive screen that fleshes out the skeleton and even teaches you how to pronounce the particular dinosaur’s name correctly. For the exhibit’s largest skeletons, such as the 43-foot-long Giganotosaurus, visitors can point a screen at a specific part of the dinosaur to see it fleshed out and learn more about it.
The Giganotosaurus skeleton is one of the most impressive specimens in the exhibit. According to the museum, it is known to be one of the “most complete” skeletons of any giant meat-eater from Gondwana. Giganotosaurus, the exhibit says, weighed up to 13, 200 pounds and had “blade-like teeth well-suited to slicing meat.” Imagine running into this monster?
Another aspect of the exhibit that you don’t want to miss is a cast of an immense Futalognkosaurus dukei leg. According to the exhibit, this “giant titanosaur sauropod” lived 85 million years ago in what is now Southern Argentina. The exhibit states that a single leg bone such as a femur, can be taller than an adult human. “The entire skeleton of Futalognkosaurus is over 32 metres (105 feet) long,” the exhibit says. This is a great photo opportunity!
Also, the exhibit covers more than land-based dinosaurs. It also looks at giant fish such as Onchopristis, which would have swum in what is now the Sahara Desert. According to the exhibit, in the Late Cretaceous Period, the Sahara Desert was home to aquatic creatures including this sawfish, which “may have been over eight metres long.”
In this hands-on exhibit, visitors can even touch real dinosaur fossils. In the exhibit’s first hall, you’ll find a sauropod vertebra and the partial tibia of a theropod – both are from 95 million years ago. Yet another interesting element of the exhibit is a wall-sized screen that simulates a Pterodactyl flight. Follow this prehistoric winged reptile as it soars over red rock canyons and out over the water. You can be sure that everyone – child and adult alike – will be impressed by this fascinating exhibit.
And if after seeing these incredible beasts you want to see more dinosaurs, just wander down to the museum’s Talisman Energy Fossil Gallery. In this permanent gallery, you’ll find 30 complete dinosaur skeletons from 85 to 65 million years ago as well as a diorama with 15 fleshed-out, life-sized models. The diorama is an iconic Museum of Nature photo spot.
Also, make sure not to miss Judith! According to the museum, the Spiclypeus shipporum dinosaur is nicknamed ‘Judith’ after the Judith River Formation in Montana, U.S., where it was found. This is a new species of horned dinosaur that was identified by the museum’s paleontologist Dr. Jordan Mallon just a few months ago. Judith will be on display in Ottawa until Nov. 13, 2016.