The American Museum of Natural History in New York city announced a major new exhibition, The World’s Largest Dinosaurs (April 16, 2011-January 2, 2012), which will take visitors beyond the bones and into the amazing anatomy of a uniquely super-sized group of dinosaurs who thrived for 140 million years: the long-necked and long-tailed sauropods, which ranged in size from 15 to 150 feet long.
Drawing on the latest science that looks in part to existing organisms to understand these long-extinct giants, The World’s Largest Dinosaurs will answer such intriguing questions as how an extremely large animal breathes, eats, moves, and survives by illuminating how size and scale are related to basic biological functions. Innovative interactive exhibits—including the centerpiece, a life-sized, detailed model of a 60-foot Mamenchisaurus—will take visitors inside these giants’ bodies, shedding light on how heart rate, respiration, metabolism, and reproduction are linked to size.
“The Museum has long been known for its pioneering paleontological research and extraordinary dinosaur collection, one of the world’s largest,” said Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History. “This exhibition will offer visitors an entirely new perspective on this fascinating group of animals and showcase recent development in our understanding of how some of the largest organisms ever to walk the Earth actually lived.”
Distinguished by their colossal size, sauropods included animals of diverse size and shape, including the gigantic Apatosaurus, formerly known as Brontosaurus. Focusing on the sauropods’ biology and behavior, the exhibition will examine the tools and methods paleontologists use to unlock the mystery of how these massive animals were able to survive so successfully for tens of millions of years: how and why they grew to be so large, how much they ate, how they moved, and how their gigantic bodies worked so well in their environment.
Standing 11 feet tall and 60 feet long—approximately the size of a tractor-trailer—the centerpiece of this exhibition will be a life-sized, fleshed-out model of a female Mamenchisaurus, known for its remarkable 30-foot neck. The model will feature details such as skin texture on one side, while the other side will let visitors glimpse a sauropod’s anatomy through video projections that provide a look at a dinosaur’s body cavity.
Additional interactive exhibits and hands-on activities will offer visitors of all ages engaging opportunities to discover how sauropods compare with living animals and learn about how studying modern organisms can shed light on extinct species. Examining sauropod teeth next to those of modern plant-eaters and carnivores, weighing a sauropod’s vertebrae and a giraffe’s vertebrae to discover which is lighter, and other interactive opportunities will show what can be gleaned about dinosaur behavior and biology through indirect evidence. In another section that examines a sauropod heart and circulatory system, visitors will have the chance to control a pump linked to a computer-generated dinosaur to see how much blood pressure is needed to distribute blood up through the animal’s long neck and throughout its entire body.
The exhibition will also include specimens from the Museum’s world-renowned fossil collection, including sauropod limbs and brain endocasts, vertebrae, skin impressions, and a variety of other ancient specimens. An excavation at the end of the exhibition will introduce visitors to how dinosaurs are discovered in the field through a replicated dig site.
The World’s Largest Dinosaurs is curated by Mark Norell, chair of the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, and guest co-curated by Martin Sander of the University of Bonn, Germany. The exhibition is designed and organized by the American Museum of Natural History , New York (www.amnh.org) in collaboration with Coolture Marketing, Bogotá , Colombia .