Exhibit Information

American Museum of Natural History

Address Central Park West @79th Street
New York, NY 10024

Click here for quick directions
Phone Number 212-769-5100

Website http://www.amnh.org

The World\\\\\\\'s Largest Dinosaurs

Opening: 16 APRIL 2011 - Closing: 2 JANUARY 2012


There are already some Fossilized-Skeletons of Very Large Dinosaurs in the David H. Koch Dinosaur-Wing of the American Museum of Natural History, so do not expect to find even Larger Skeletons in this impressive new exhibition.

 

But its Centerpiece is actually a Life-Sized, Detailed-Model of a 60-foot-long Mamenchisaurus.

 

Not given to Promotional-Modesty, here’s how the Press-Department heralds the new show:

 

"THE SUPER-SIZED Sauropods,

The most colossal Animals to walk the earth”

 

The ingeniously-installed exhibition explores the amazing biology of a group of uniquely Super-Sized Dinosaurs: the long-necked & long-tailed Sauropods.

 

This new show draws on cutting-edge Paleo-Biological Research that references Living-Organisms to make inferences about how these Giants—some of which grew to be longer than 150 feet, or the length of four standard city-buses—were able to thrive, as a group, for approximately 140-million-years.

Supersaurus vivianae
 

Using a variety of Graphics, Models, Artifacts, & Videos, the show takes visitors beyond the Bones & into the Bodies of these Titans, shedding light on how Heart-Rate, Respiration, Metabolism, & Reproduction are linked to Size.

Heart Model
 

Michael Novacek—the Museum’s Provost for Science—points out: "The Museum has the world’s largest Vertebrate-Fossil Collection & has for many years been known as a Global-Center for leading Paleontological-Research.

 

"This exhibition builds on that Legacy, presenting an entirely new Scientific-Approach to Dinosaurs that treats them as Living-Creatures—with all of the Biological-Complexity of Modern-Species.”

 

Distinguished by their Colossal-Size, Sauropods included animals of diverse shapes & ornamentations, such as the gigantic Apatosaurus—formerly known as Brontosaurus—a mount of which has been on display in the Museum since 1905.

 

The exhibition is curated by Mark Norell—Chair of the Museum’s Division of Paleontology—who has done ground-breaking work in the field of Dinosaur-Biology.

 

It also features the work of Guest Co-Curator Martin Sander, from the University of Bonn in Germany.

 

Sander has assembled a Multi-Disciplinary Research-Team of Experts in Materials-Science, Animal-Nutrition, Sports-Medicine, Biomechanics, & Paleontology, to address the question of what Sauropods were like as Living-Animals & how they became so large.

 

In their research, both Norell and Sander look to the closest Modern-Relatives of Dinosaurs, such as Birds & Crocodiles, to make inferences about Sauropod-Biology.

 

There is an array of Interactive-Exhibits & Hands-on-Activities that offer visitors opportunities to compare Sauropods with animals now living.

 

They can compare Sauropod-Teeth with those of modern Plant-Eaters & Carnivores. Or they can use a hand-pump to discover how much pressure would have been needed to distribute blood through a Sauropod’s long neck to its head.

 

The exhibition also includes specimens from the Museum’s world-renowned Fossil-Collection, including Sauropod-Vertebrae, Skin-Impressions, a gigantic Femur, & a variety of other Ancient-Specimens.

 

Inspired by Howe Quarry in Wyoming—a rich Fossil-Site excavated by Museum-Paleontologists—a Hands-On Dig-Pit shows visitors how Dinosaur-Fossils are discovered & excavated in the field.

 

The World’s Largest Dinosaurs is divided into multiple Content-Sections:

 

Introduction: When visitors enter the exhibition-space, they immediately encounter the enormous head of an Argentinosaurus, considered the world’s largest Sauropod. Discovered in Argentina, this Dinosaur probably weighed up to 90 tons & measured up to 140 feet long.

 

·Size: This section explores the biological effects of size in animals both huge & tiny & living & extinct. To provide perspective, a 15-foot-tall replica of a Supersaurus Hind-Leg is displayed among models, specimens, & bones of living-animals such as a Hummingbird, Dwarf-Gecko, African-Elephant, & Humans.

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·Meet Mamenchisaurus: Standing 11-feet-tall at the shoulders & measuring 60-feet-long—approximately the size of a Tractor-Trailer—the centerpiece of this exhibition is a life-sized, fleshed-out model of an 18-year-old female Mamenchisaurus.

 

Though not the largest Sauropod, Mamenchisaurus is known for its remarkable 30-foot-long neck, which accounts for fully half of its Body-Size.

 

Textured-Skin—on one side of the Model—gives visitors a sense of this enormous animal’s outward appearance, but, on the other side, the animal appears to be dissected, with Key-Organs, including the Heart & Lung, isolated & modeled at Life-Size.

 

A Video—projected on the animal’s Mid-Section—enables visitors to see how a Mamenchisaurus’s Respiratory, Circulatory, & Digestive Systems contributed to its enormous size.

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·Eat: What did a Sauropod eat? How could Sauropods possibly get enough food to survive?

 

This section addresses how Sauropods developed into hugely-efficient Eating-Machines, by exploring their "Fermentation-Tank” Digestive-Systems, their Herbivorous-Diet, Incisor-like-Teeth, & the Mechanics of Ingestingby swallowing vegetation whole.  

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·React: Sauropods had Small-Brains in their relatively Small-Heads. An Apatosaurus Brain weighed at most 4 ounces, compared to the 48-ounce Human-Brain.

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·Reach: With their Crane-like-Necks, Sauropods were able to reach food that other plant eaters could not. This section addresses the Biomechanics & Adaptive-Advantages of a long but, surprisingly, light-weight Neck.

 

The intricate structure of Sauropod-Vertebrae is illustrated by a huge Fossil-Neck-Bone; also explored is the effectiveness of long-necks as Cooling-Systems.

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How Big: Over the course of 140 million years, Sauropods evolved into a range of shapes & sizes, with varying colors & ornamentation. Through Fossil-Evidence & the study of living-animals, scientists have been able to determine the approximate sizes & weights of various species of Sauropods.

 

A 60-by-16-foot mural on one wall of the exhibition depicts this group’s diversity. Also on display is the 155 million-year old, 6-foot-tall femur of an adult Camarasaurus, a Dinosaur that scientists have determined weighed approximately 22 tons.

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·Babies: Emerging from an Egg smaller than a Soccer-Ball, hatchling Sauropods grew to an enormous size in a short amount of time.

 

While Hatchlings generally weighed less than 11 pounds at birth, within three decades, mature adult Sauropods could weigh 10,000 times more, or as much as 55 tons.

 

No other known Land-Animal, Bird, or Reptile grew at such an exponentially Rapid-Rate.

 

Replicas of Eggs from living & extinct animals—an Elephant-Bird, the Sauropod Ampelosaurus, the Theropod Oviraptor, an Osprey, & a Ruby-Throated-Hummingbird—are available for visitors to compare & analyze.

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·Skin: For scientists today, fossilized-skin-impressions are the only record of what a Sauropod’s skin may have looked like. From these impressions, we know that Sauropod-Skin was almost certainly dry & warm, & because Dinosaurs had no Sweat-Glands in their skin, they did not Perspire.

 

They were covered with small, bumpy & knobby Scales that protected the Dinosaur’s body & prevented evaporation of water from inside.

 

No Sauropods had Hair or Feathers. On display is an Osteoderm, or bony-skin-growth, of a Titanosaur—part of a Sauropod group—that reached the largest sizes & lived between 65 and 71-million-years-ago.

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·Beat: Human Hearts pump 6.5 quarts of blood throughout the body, whereas a Mamenchisaurus Heart pumped 630 quarts of blood.

 

Although no fossilized-dinosaur-hearts have been discovered, scientists have been able to determine the size & structure of a Sauropod heart by studying their closest-living-relatives—Ostriches & Crocodilians.

 

A life-sized heart-model is on display. Visitors can use a pump connected to a Computer-Interactive to calculate the correct speed & pressure required to circulate blood throughout a Sauropod’s large body.

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·Breathe: A resting Human inhales one-pint of air per-breath, while a Mamenchisaurus took in about 174 pints. On display is a life-sized-replica of the enormous & complex Breathing-System that made that volume possible.

 

To understand Sauropod Respiratory-Systems, scientists looked to the Breathing & Anatomy of Birds & Crocodilians. These comparisons indicated that the highly-efficient lungs of Sauropods received oxygen-rich air during inhalation as well as exhalation. This continuous-flow enabled a Sauropod to spend less-energy on breathing.  

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·Fuel: With a diet that may have included Horsetails, Ginkgos, Conifers, & Ferns, a Mamenchisaurus needed 100,000 calories-per-day to survive.

 

In contrast, an Adult-Human needs just 2,200 calories per day. A 5½-foot Cube-of-Foliage on display represents how much Plant-Matter—approximately 1,000 pounds—a Mamenchisaurus ate in a single day.

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·Search: There is still more to understand about Sauropods & more Specimens to be found.

 

A Wire-Outline of a Vertebra hints at the dimensions of what may have been the largest Sauropod to ever walk the Earth, Amphicoelias.

 

In 1878, the famed fossil-hunter, E.D. Cope, published detailed-drawings & measurements of the specimen, but the Fossil itself has since been lost.

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