Press Release

Antarctic Dinosaurs Coming to the Field Museum in June

 

Antarctica hasn’t always been icy and barren—around two hundred million years ago, it was a lush, temperate region, home to crocodile-sized amphibians and rhinoceros-sized dinosaurs. On June 15, the Field Museum’s newest exhibition, Antarctic Dinosaurs, will reveal this lost world, illuminated by Field scientists’ expeditions to the frozen continent. Visitors will be able to see and touch real fossils from Antarctica, along with full-sized replicas showing how the dinosaurs and their habitat would have looked in life.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for people to see and discover fossils from Antarctica and what they tell us about Earth’s history,” says Pete Makovicky, the museum’s Curator of Dinosaurs who has done extensive fieldwork in Antarctica. “We want visitors to feel like they’re traveling to Antarctica, give them a historical perspective on scientific expeditions, and then take them back in time, as well as show them some of the newest and coolest discoveries in paleontology.”

The exhibition will contain artifacts from both historical and modern expeditions, including the sledge used by one of the first Antarctic adventurers over a hundred years ago, and the thick red parkas worn by Field Museum scientists exploring Antarctica today. Visitors will get a sense of what goes into living and working in the coldest spot on earth. “It’s an adventure story,” says Exhibitions Operations Director Tom Skwerski, who worked on creating the exhibition with the Museum’s partners at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the Utah Museum of Natural History, and the Discovery Place in North Carolina.

After giving visitors background on how scientists do research in Antarctica, says Skwerski, the exhibition reveals the fruits of that research: the dinosaurs themselves.

“We’re showing real skeletons, real bones, as well as lifelike sculptures of dinosaurs set in naturalistic dioramas,” says Makovicky. The immersive environment shows the world these animals lived in, complete with a dark sky streaked with shimmering light from the aurora australis (the southern counterpart to the Northern Lights).

The exhibition features four species of dinosaur: the twenty-five foot-long predator Cryolophosaurus (“frozen crested lizard,” named for the bony ornamentation on its head), rhinosized herbivore Glacialisaurus, and two new species that haven’t even been officially scientifically described yet. These new dinosaurs are sauropodomorphs, early relatives of the giant long-necked, four-legged herbivores like Brachiosaurus and titanosaurs. The new species, however, are smaller—the littler one, a juvenile specimen, is about the size of a Labrador Retriever.

“I’m excited because we’ll be presenting dinosaurs that our visitors have never seen before and may not be familiar with, species that are new to science,” says Skwerski. “Visitors will also get to see other ancient fossils too—plants, giant amphibians, and a huge carnivorous marine reptile called Taniwhasaurus.”

In addition to the fossils and immersive environments, Antarctic Dinos also offers handson experiences. “It’s engaging and interactive,” says Skwerski. “Visitors will be able to touch a piece of stone containing real fossils from Antarctica. There’s a puzzle explaining plate tectonics, how the continents fit together, and an interactive explaining polar light and the midnight sun. It’s really cool, and it helps those concepts make sense.”

Skwerski and Makovicky say they’re looking forward to an exhibition that highlights the Museum’s paleontological work.

“Dinosaurs are what the Field Museum is known for. It’s fitting that in the year of our 125th anniversary, we’re presenting something we’re so known and loved for,” says Skwerski. “The exhibition features our scientists’ work, and we’re finding more and more fossils that we didn’t even know existed. Dinosaurs in Antarctica—it blows your mind.”

Antarctic Dinosaurs will be presented with bilingual text in English and Spanish and will run until January 6, 2019.