What has hollow bones, lays eggs and a wishbone? Answer – A dinosaur. This and other fascinating questions are answered at the Australian Museum’s sensational TYRANNOSAURS- MEET THE FAMILY exhibition.
This latest exhibition at the Museum is enthralling with a highlight being the exciting interactive sections. It contains the most up to date research, for inquisitive adults, and delightful interactive segments, together with some outstanding animation to stimulate the imagination of schoolchildren. There is a wonderful section showing various dinosaurs walking around from Circular Quay to the Opera House
Information is clear and prominently displayed in black and yellow borders. The skeletons and casts on display are fabulous. The exhibition is designed to provide a snapshot of dinosaur life and show how this group became the world’s top predators with their massive skulls, powerful jawlines and bone-crunching teeth.
Current scientific research is causing the image of the world’s most popular dinosaur, Tyrannosaurus Rex, to be re-evaluated. Though one of the first tyrannosaurs to be discovered, T. rex – the swift, flesh-eating apex predator – was actually the last in a long dinosaur dynasty that appeared 165 million years ago and perished some 100 million years later.
The exhibition also details a revised tyrannosaur family tree. During the past five years, paleontologists have discovered T. rex’s smaller ancestors. One of these, Guanlong wucaii, is among the most primitive tyrannosaurs known, hunting 90 million years before T. rex.
Discoveries like these are changing the story of the evolution of tyrannosaurs, and this fossil helps make the case that feathers originated in dinosaurs before they became used for flight in birds. In small, flightless dinosaurs like Guanlong wucaii, feathers may have evolved as an essential piece of equipment for staying warm. The latest dinosaur finds by Chinese paleontologist Xing Xu and his team were discovered together in Northwestern China preserved in layers of shale, mudstone and volcanic ash.
Shedding light on what life was like 160 million years ago for this group of dinosaurs, these discoveries have cemented the evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds. Even with mass extinction events 65 million years ago, some dinosaurs survived and continued to evolve into the modern birds we live with today.
With a name meaning ‘crown dragon’, Guanlong wucaii lived 160 million years ago in the late Jurassic period, its eponymous spectacular head crest running along its snout from nostril to eye socket. Fragile, hollow and made from fused nasal bones, the crest may have been used to attract a mate.
Not a typical tyrannosaur, Guanlong wucaii had long arms and three-fingered hands for grabbing and ripping. But the shape of its teeth, skull and pelvis all link it to the tyrannosaur group. The diminutive dinosaur stood 1.1 metres tall at the hip, and measured 3 metres in length.
Were dinosaurs good parents? We learn about their hatching habits and gaze at fossilized eggs. There was a section where you can check ten things that help identify a dinosaur and for example check how strong your ‘bite punch’ is compared to a T –Rex’s (help! I wouldn’t have a hope! )
Fascinating information is also presented about a dinosaur’s brain – how did a dinosaur think /eat / hear?, as well as a wonderful dial twister cabinet which shows you where and when in the ancient world particular dinosaurs lived. The exhibition also asks, what killed the dinosaurs? Is the conjecture right that it was a meteor collision?
To complement the stunning exhibition, the Australian Museum has organised a large array of public events for members and visitors of all ages, from children’s activities such as museum sleepovers, torchlight tours, dinosaur-themed museum hunts as well as a lecture series and After-5 program for adults. And there are lots of exciting merchandise to splurge on in the shop after viewing the exhibition.
The exhibition TYRANNOSAURS- MEET THE FAMILY opened at the Australian Museum on Saturday 23November and is running until Sunday 27 July, 2014. For more information:- http://australianmuseum.net.au/landing/tyrannosaurs/