Move over, T-Rex: New exhibit at Natural History Museum shows off Southern Hemisphere dinosaurs

North American dinosaurs—Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus, and Triceratops, to name a few—are meeting their Southern Hemisphere counterparts at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Through April 2020, museum visitors can also meet these unfamiliar breeds, such as the Giganotosaurus and Suchomimus, at “Ultimate Dinosaurs,” an introduction to some large creatures unfamiliar to most North Americans.

The exhibit features 16 full-size reconstructions, fossils that visitors can touch, and augmented reality technology that will give visitors an up-close and personal experience.

Carcharodontosaurus Skull“It’s showcasing all of these rather amazing animals that come from the Southern Hemisphere,” says Harvey Webster, museum ambassador and chief wildlife officer. “Some of these dinosaurs are the size of your cat, some of them are the size of a school bus. There’s amazing diversity—they’re just different and not what you are used to seeing in North America.”

Millions of years ago, the earth’s continents were one—known as Pangea. But as the continents separated and shifted, some dinosaurs remained in North America, and their remains are well-known in this area as researchers learn more about the giant, warm-blooded beasts that roamed the Earth.

But on what became South America, Madagascar, and other parts of Africa, different breeds of dinosaurs roamed, archeologists have discovered as recently as in the past 30 years. “It turns out there was an equally rich fauna of dinosaurs in the Southern Hemisphere,” says Webster. “We’re finding all sorts of amazing dinosaurs.”

Many of the Southern Hemisphere dinosaurs are similar to the creatures familiar in North America, Webster says, but many are even larger.

For instance, the Giganotosaurus resembles a T-Rex, but it is larger; while the arnotaurus had a head like a T-Rex but very small forelimbs, Webster says.

Majungasaurus, the largest predatory dinosaur from Madagascar.Other species featured in Ultimate Dinosaurs include Eoraptor, a tiny bipedal dinosaur with both serrated and flat teeth, which suggest it was an omnivore; Suchomimus, a 33-foot-long, 6,600-pound spinosaur from the Sahara Desert in Niger; Majungosaurus, from Madagascar, that is believed to have exhibited cannibalistic behavior at least some of the time; and Rapetosaurus, which was up to 60 feet long.

Throughout the exhibit, augmented reality technology allows visitors to look at the cast dinosaur skeleton and, using an iPad-like device, see it fleshed out, says Webster, and parts of the anatomy are tagged with information.

The Royal Ontario Museum first developed the Ultimate Dinosaurs exhibit before the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul incorporated the technology and turned it into a traveling exhibit.

The entire Ultimate Dinosaurs exhibit is not only fascinating to view, it tells the story of the evolution of life, Webster says. He reminds visitors that modern-day birds are actually modern-day dinosaurs, which somehow survived the asteroid that wiped the other dinosaurs out 65 million years ago.

“This is the story of life,” he says. “Dinosaurs have always had the corner on that cool factor for kids of any age—including me.”

Ultimate Dinosaurs opened Nov. 29 and runs through Sunday, April 26, in the museum’s Kahn Hall.

Through the new year, the museum is open late and early on certain dates. On Fridays, December 20, 27, and January 3, the museum will be open until 8 p.m. On Sundays, December 22, 29, and January 5, the museum will open at 10 a.m. Regular hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.;
and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.  
The Museum closes early at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.