Mega Dinosaur Exhibit On Display In New York

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Replicas and actual pieces of some of the world's largest dinosaurs take center stage at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The focus of this new exhibition is just as much the insides of these giants as their huge skeletal outlines.

Some of these dinosaurs grew to be longer than 150 feet, or the length of four standard city buses. Their hearts used to pump ninety times as much blood as human hearts do. They are the sauropods -- uniquely super-sized dinosaurs that are now the focus of a new exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Titled "The World's Largest Dinosaurs", the central focus of the exhibition is an 11-foot tall, 60-foot-long model of a Mamenchisaurus. It is a life-sized fleshed-out model of a young adult female Mamenchisaurus. One side of the model features skin texture and on the other side are video projections that provide a peek inside its long body. While the Mamenchisaurus is not the largest sauropod, its 30-foot-long neck accounts for half of its body size.

"The world's largest dinosaurs really are the sauropods and so we really have a diversity of sauropods on display here in the galleries. But at the same time the show is really centered on one animal in particular, an animal named Mamenchisaurus that was about a 100 million years old and that lived in what is today China," said Mark Norell, chair of the museum's paleontology division and the curator of this exhibition.

Norell was inspired by the idea of peeling away the layers of these super-sized sauropods to show their muscles, bones and internal organs. The idea is also to show how their metabolism was linked to size. So dinosaur enthusiasts can view models of the pumping heart and beating lung of the Mamenchisaurus. Or see a video projection that depicts how this giant breathes.

Interactivity was just as important to Norell and this is a prominent aspect of the exhibition -- children can excavate dinosaur bones in a dig pit at one end while adults can measure femurs. On another side, visitors can peek into the nest of a Titanosaur and then measure the size of its big eggs.

Distinguished by their colossal size, sauropods included animals of diverse shape, and ornamentation. They were plant eaters and lived some 200 million years ago. While walking around the exhibition one can view the 15-foot-tall replica of a Supersaurus Vivianae leg, or the actual vertebra of a Camarasaurus and even skulls of the Diplodocus.

Those wanting to get a glimpse of the largest sauropod need not despair -- parts of the Argentinosaurus are also on display, though it was too big for the museum to make a life sized model of.

These mega dinosaurs which survived as a group for approximately 140 million years can be visited through January 2nd, 2012.

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