Dinosaurs have been a big part of my life since my daughter first discovered them as a toddler.  So, of course, the new joint exhibit presented by Chicago’s Field Museum and the Natural History Museum of LA County was a must-see attraction.  Antarctic Dinosaurs may sound like an odd mix, but before you know it, you’ll feel like a member of the science team.

A little background

I don’t know about you, but I have trouble putting the Antarctic into historic perspective.  I know about the history of most of the world, but the South Pole is a strange place.  People didn’t visit often.  The first expedition to reach the pole was led by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen in 1911.  That may help one understand the significance of the following image.

One of the first fossils from Antarctica!

One of the first fossils from Antarctica!

It was discovered by Frank W. Stokes in 1902.  In contrast, the first dinosaur fossil from Megalosaurus was discovered in 1676 in England!

As for the place called Louis Philippe Land, as near as I can discover, it is the northernmost tip of Trinity Penisula, a strip of land that juts out toward the southern point of Argentina.  It would be more than a decade before anyone reached the actual pole.  

Survival!

The exhibit stresses the harsh conditions of the region.  Many of those early expeditions suffered losses.  The visitor can compare survival gear from hundred years ago with that of scientists, support staff, and crew today.

Gear worn my US Antarctic Program participants

Gear worn by US Antarctic Program participants

Once the visitor is ready for the cold, it’s time to get moving.

Highlights

I can’t walk you through the exhibit step by step, but I can tell you about some cool things, like the notion that 250 million years ago, the area was a tropical forest.  This was the time of the Antarctosuchus Polyodon.

Antarctosuch Polydon, an amphibian from the South Pole of 250 million years ago.

Antarctosuch Polydon, an amphibian from the South Pole of 250 million years ago.

This fellow(?) was very popular with the little kids.  They couldn’t resist climbing on it, while the docent calmly tried to discourage them.

After viewing several plant fossils, it was exciting to get to some big animals, like Cryolophosaurus.  This animal had to be the star of the show.

Cryolophosaurus

Cryolophosaurs, a crested dinosaur

The dinosaur is about 25-feet long and billed as the “cold-crested killer.”  That’s enough to excite anyone!  The part I like is the almost fur-like feathers.  I can remember when the idea of feathers on dinosaurs met with a lot of resistance. Now, the evidence supports feathers and theropods.

I have one last image because it makes me happy.  If you know me at all, you know I can’t resist New Zealand, so I have to include the Taniwhasaurus.

Taniwhasaurus antarcticus

Taniwhasaurus antarcticus

This large marine creature lived about 70 million years ago and occupied the waters around Japan, New Zealand, and Antarctica.  As you can see by the teeth, it was a predator.

Antarctic Dinosaurs is a terrific display, giving a sense of history, science, and the notion that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.  The exhibit will be in Los Angeles through January 5, 2020.

To see more images from my visit, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Comments (2)

  1. Love this. When I was a kid, the first thing I ever thought about being when I grew up was a paleontologist, partly because I loved dinosaurs and partly because I thought “paleontologist” was a cool-sounding word.

    1. You’re so funny! My daughter also wanted to be a paleontologist. Dinosaurs were a way of life here for a long time. Her geology training comes in handy when I’m hiking. I can ask her lots of questions about rocks!

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