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Antarctic Dinosaurs

Antarctic Dinosaurs Makes Its West Coast Debut at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County 


On view April 3, 2019 through January 5, 2020 

Los Angeles, February 5, 2019 — This spring, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) will bring the traveling exhibition Antarctic Dinosaurs to Southern California from April 3, 2019 through January 5, 2020. Created by NHM in partnership with the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago; the Natural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake City; and the Discovery Place, Charlotte, Antarctic Dinosaurs puts visitors in the shoes of Antarctic adventurer-scientists, engaging them in the preparation, peril, and discovery of remote field work. It follows the journey of modern-day paleontologists, NHM’s Dr. Nathan Smith and Dr. Pete Makovicky, Curator of Dinosaurs at the Field Museum, as they mount an expedition to Antarctica’s Mount Kirkpatrick in 2010-2011 and discover a new species of dinosaur—and a better understanding of connections among dinosaur species discovered around the world. After experiencing the human side of modern Antarctic exploration, immersive environments transport visitors millions of years into the past to Antarctica’s lush, temperate prehistoric environment where crocodile-sized amphibians and elephant-sized dinosaurs once roamed. 

The exhibition features full-sized replicas of four species of dinosaurs: the 25-foot-long predator Cryolophosaurus (“frozen crested lizard,” named for the bony ornamentation on its head), the elephant- sized herbivore Glacialisaurus, and two recently discovered and yet-to-be named sauropodomorphs, early relatives of the giant long-necked, four-legged herbivores like Brachiosaurus and Titanosaurus. Unlike their popular cinematic cousins, these new species are smaller—the smallest, known from juvenile specimens, is about the size of a Labrador Retriever. In addition to standing alongside these prehistoric dinosaurs, visitors will be offered an opportunity to touch original fossils from the lost world and look through microscopes to see how paleontologists prepared these fossils using a specialized air scribe tool. 

Antarctic Dinosaurs highlights NHM’s commitment to wide-ranging research and global activity by our extraordinary group of scientists,” stated Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, NHM President and Director. “It’s an adventure story about the history of Antarctic exploration from nearly a century ago to present day. But it’s also a story about how this work provides insights into climactic and ecologic change on our planet. My hope is that Nate’s adventures, and the relevance of the team’s discoveries, will inspire the next generation of paleontologists.” 

Early polar expeditions varied in size and scope, but scientists and explorers all shared a common goal: map Antarctica’s coast line and be the first to reach the South Pole. While several of these expeditions were successful in their missions, Antarctic Dinosaurs will highlight the dangers of early exploration and the deadly fate of several expeditions, including the Terra Nova expedition in 1912 (where Sir Robert Falcon Scott and four other expedition members died after racing to the South Pole only to find out that they had lost to Roald Amundsen, who had arrived five weeks prior). Tools and gear belonging to the Terra Nova survivors, ranging from a cotton and wool balaclava worn during the disastrous and deadly expedition to a century-old ration of powdered pea soup that didn’t run the risk of freezing or spoiling, are among the historic highlights. 

NHM visitors will also follow the story of today’s paleontologists as they painstakingly prepared for an expedition to Antarctica’s Mount Kirkpatrick in 2010-2011. From specialized gloves and parkas, to a long ride in Air National Guard LC-130 transport planes into Antarctica’s icy interior, to “snow school” acclimation exercises, to hiking across ice- covered mountains and transporting large rock- encased fossils back to the United States for further excavation, the scientists’ preparation and diligent research led to the discovery of a new species of dinosaur, and a better understanding of connections among species discovered around the world. The Los Angeles exhibit will feature additional content about Southern California scientists who use satellite data in Antarctica for climate change research. 
“I’m thrilled to bring Antarctic Dinosaurs to the NHM and for visitors to learn more about Antarctica’s past and present, as well as its relevance for understanding current environmental challenges,” said Smith, Associate Curator at NHM’s Dinosaur Institute. “Working in Antarctica is like traveling to another planet! So much remains to be discovered, and we’re hoping that our new finds will tell us how mass extinctions and climate change affected ancient polar ecosystems and animals.” 

Antarctic Dinosaurs was developed by the Field Museum, Chicago in partnership with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Discovery Place – Charlotte, NC, and the Natural History Museum of Utah. Generous support was provided by the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund. 

Antarctic Dinosaurs will be presented with bilingual text in English and Spanish. 
Visitor Information Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90007 www.nhm.org 

Group Visits Groups of 10 or more people receive discounted rates on Museum admission. Group tickets available now by calling 213.763.3218 or by emailing groupsales@nhm.org for reservations and more information.
Membership Tickets to the exhibition are free for NHM members. To become a member, visit nhm.org/membership. 

About the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County include NHM, La Brea Tar Pits (Hancock Park/Mid-Wilshire), and the William S. Hart Museum (Newhall, California). The museums serve more than 1.3 million visitors annually, and are a collective national leader in research, exhibitions, and education. NHM was the first dedicated museum building in Los Angeles, opening its doors in 1913, and has since amassed one of the world’s most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural history—more than 35 million objects. It is the only natural history museum in the world today that incorporates on- and offsite nature exploration, local wildlife inventories, a slate of community science programs, and active research into a museum paradigm that once focused on the past, but increasingly addresses the present and the future. 

Image Captions: Top Left: Expedition Photo 2, photograph by Eva Koppelhus. An expedition team member waits for the helicopter to pick up a fossil to take back to the basecamp Top Right: Sauropodomorph skull. © John Weinstein, Field Museum. Fossil skull of a new species of sauropodomorph dinosaur from Antarctica. Middle Left: Illustration of Cryolophosaurus ellioti. © Field Museum, illustration by Velizar Simeonovski. Bottom Left: Expedition Photo 3 team in Antarctica 2011, photograph by Phil Currie. The photo features NHM scientist and Associate Curator in the Dinosaur Institute, Nate Smith, with Field Museum scientist Pete Makovicky, William Hammer and Joshua Mathews from Augustana College, and Philip Currie and Eva Koppelhus from the University of Alberta. 

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