Dinosaurs: Modeling the Mesozoic

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The evidence collected through fossil records tells a tantalizingly incomplete and still evolving tale. Here, through fossils and life-size models, learn how paleontologists continue to compile evidence and change the way we view extinct animals.

Emblematic of this changing view is our full-size Tyrannosaurus rex model. The Museum’s first T. rex, created in the 1960s, was based on the existing evidence: three very incomplete skeletons. Today, over 30 skeletons have been discovered, so in 2001, a new, more accurate model was created and is now displayed.

In addition to models, explore fossil clues — such as bones, footprints, and even dinosaur dung! Compare the bones of a bird, an iguana, and a dinosaur, and see how at least one branch of dinosaurs is more closely related to birds than we ever imagined.

At our "Who's in the Family?" mural, figure out what separates dinosaurs from other ancient and modern animals. Examine "bone dictionaries" to explore mystery skeletons, play with scale models of Coelophysis, and use kiosks to learn more about our Mesozoic murals. Finally, imagine what future dinosaur models might look like.

Photos © Larry Ralph

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