February 25, 2020

Dinosaurs, extreme exploration take center stage in latest exhibition

Get in on the journey to uncover four new species with our new exhibition

If you think the stars of our newest traveling exhibition are the dinosaurs, you are half right. The four new species of dinos discovered in the coldest region on Earth certainly make for some showstopping moments in the Antarctic Dinosaurs exhibition, but the journey to unearth them is equally as captivating.

“This exhibition is about the dinosaurs, but it’s also about how we do science in Antarctica,” says Dr. Nathan Smith, paleontologist and associate curator of the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. “This exhibition really gives you a feel for what it is like to go down there and do this work.”

Suit up and strap in

Visitors kick off their Antarctic experience just like Smith and his fellow scientists do – by boarding an LC-130 military cargo plane. For exhibition guests, it’s a peek into how each journey starts (and a cool photo op!). For the scientists, the cramped quarters represent just the beginning of a months-long expedition to the icy continent.

Other highlights of this section include:

  • Secondplace finish: Learn about the Terra Nova expedition of the early 1900s. In the race to be the first to reach the South Pole, Robert Falcon Scott and his team came in second. All five explorers in the polar party perished on the trip home, but the 40 pounds of fossils they had collected were recovered, and several of those fossils are on display here.
  • Gear evolution: Also on display is the actual gear worn during that 1900s trip. Nearby sits an outfit worn on Antarctic expeditions today, offering a great opportunity to see the evolution of cold-weather gear. Think you’d know what to pack to survive an Antarctic expedition? Don’t miss the interactive element in this section that lets you test your skills.

Origins of Antarctica

What once was lush forest land is now the coldest continent in the world. In the second section of the exhibition, visitors learn about this leafy lost world that existed before the dinosaurs.

You won’t miss the giant, lifelike amphibian featured here. Although not a crocodile, Antarctosuchus, as it is named, shares some ecological similarities to the modern-day reptile. The giant predator’s flat, shapely head earned Antarctosuchus and its relatives a nickname – the toilet seat amphibians – because of the uncanny resemblance of their skulls to, well, a toilet seat.

Other highlights of this section include:

  • Pangea Puzzle: Try your hand at this 3D puzzle that teaches about plate tectonics – the theory that explains the odd distributions of ancient fossils and the way in which the continents move slowly over time.
  • Then and now: Don’t miss the encased diorama featuring a then-and-now look at Antarctica. See the forested land it once was and the cold, snow-covered land it is today all in one stark visual representation.

Fossil Hunting

Step back into present day Antarctica as a progressive video guides you through the process of fossil hunting on the 12,500-feet-high rock cliffs of Mount Kirkpatrick.

Other highlights of this section include:

  • Tools of the trade: A lot of what visitors will see in this exhibition is the real deal, and that goes for the tools featured here. Guests can get their hands on (literally) the actual tools used on one of the expeditions. See what it feels like to cut the bones out of frozen rock!
  • Touchable fossil block: The exhibition features close to 100 actual fossils and specimens – a significant amount for any traveling exhibition. A rare opportunity awaits you in this section, where one of those fossils is kept on full display for visitors to physically touch. Don’t miss your chance to feel a real backbone of the showstopping Cryolophosaurus.

The Land of Dinosaurs

It is here, in the most iconic part of the exhibition, that we set our sights on the dinosaurs of Antarctica, including yet-to-be-named species unearthed on a recent expedition. Through a combination of real fossils and full-figure replicas, this section gives visitors a feel for what it was like in Antarctica millions of years ago.

Other highlights of this section include:

  • Real fossils: Authentic fossils are featured throughout this section, including the first bone found in 1990 – the thigh bone of Cryolophosaurus. Also featured is the actual skull of Cryolophosaurusthe only one to be found so far.
  • 3D renderingsDive deeper with the help of the 3D printing. By rendering out several fossils in 3D and using digital data to look inside the bones, scientists and visitors can better understand how the dinosaurs lived.
  • Dinosaur displays: You won’t be able to take your eyes off the dinosaur displays in this section. The use of murals and dioramas allows the Antarctic dinosaurs to come to life right before your very eyes.

Antarctica Today

Moving forward in time, visitors will learn about how Antarctica became the cold environment it is today, complete with a video describing polar currents.

Other highlights of this section include:

  • Penguins: Dinosaurs may have died out, but they didn’t take long to recolonize Antarctica in the form of penguins. Learn more by studying real Antarctic penguin fossils and take a selfie with a life-size replica of a modern Emperor penguin.
  • Taniwhasaurus: Not a dinosaur but equally as amazing to look at, this marine reptile is related to the modern-day monitor lizards (like the Komodo dragon). Check out a cast of this species, fossils of which were found in Antarctica in 2002.

Final leg of the journey

In the last gallery, meet some of the researchers and scientists who spend time working in Antarctica and learn why this continent has provided some of our best records of climate. “It’s not just the fossils telling this climate story,” Smith says. “Antarctica is the perfect place to study everything from ancient atmospheres to meteorites that can tell us about the origin of the solar system.”

Antarctic Dinosaurs was developed by the Field Museum, Chicago in partnership with the

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Discovery Place – Charlotte, NC, and the Natural History Museum of Utah. Generous support was provided by the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund. It is presented in Charlotte by Chase.

For tickets or more information about Antarctic Dinosaurs, click here.