Ultimate Dinosaurs Stomp Into theNAT

San Diego Natural History Museum opens new exhibit featuring dinos from the Southern Hemisphere

Monday, February 27, 2017
By Beth Accomando, Kris Arciaga

"The Lost World" (1925)

"King Kong" (1933)

"Jurassic Park" (1993)

Something big is coming to theNAT, it is Ultimate Dinosaurs, but you will not find the dinosaurs you learned about as a kid. Instead, it is a whole new crop of dinos from the Southern Hemisphere that you may not have seen before.

If you head to the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) this weekend to see the unveiling of the new Ultimate Dinosaurs exhibit and expect to find your old friends T-Rex and Stegosaurus, you are in for a surprise.

"There are new names like Giganotosaurus, Simosuchus," said Tom Demere, curator of Paleontology at theNAT. "All these interesting new kinds of dinosaurs that again lived together and interacted with one another in a lost world that ranges from 230 million years ago from the oldest fossils that are in the exhibit to fossils as young as 66 millions years just before the asteroid impact."

"Being a natural history museum we’re all about dinosaurs," said Beth Redmond-Jones, senior director of public program at theNAT. "Ultimate Dinosaurs is probably one of the better dinosaur exhibitions that we have seen, and also it is something that most people haven’t seen before because these are species that are not commonly known and that we wanted to introduce them to."

But Breezy Callens knows these dinosaurs intimately. She is the tour manager for Ultimate Dinosaurs and has been on the road with these creatures for the past few years.

"They all have affectionate nicknames. My two favorites are Amargasaurus and Nigersaurus. Margie, we call her. Margie, we say that she works in a diner in Jersey; she works the night shift. Nigersaurus we call Niger, he’s a professor at Harvard, and he’s good friends with Margie, and they go on all sorts of adventures together," Callens said.

It is easy to understand their appeal. Dinosaurs just capture our imaginations whether we are young or old. Ultimate Dinosaurs plays up on that with technology that allows us to imagine what these massive skeletons would look like with their skin on.

Callens said, "The show travels on six semi-trucks and takes about two weeks to set up. The dinosaur skeletons are made by Research Casting International in Ottawa, and they are cast from the original fossils so they are incredibly accurate."

That scientific accuracy is important to Tom Demere.

"The Earth has a history, a vast history, 4.5 billion-year history, and that history is archived in crustal rocks," Demere said. "This archive is both a physical record of our planet as well as a biological record, and it’s really quite fascinating how diverse the earth is in terms of the organisms that inhabited the planet. It’s interesting but it also provides us with lessons for going forward as we look at a world where climate change is a factor that we need to consider, and the fossil record is really the only way to see how those changes in climate have affected organisms and environments that they live in."

The traveling exhibit of Ultimate Dinosaurs provides insights to that story as it unfolded in the Southern Hemisphere. But theNAT also has a permanent collection, Fossil Mysteries, devoted to local stories.

Visitors to the natural history museum can now find dinosaurs from both the Southern and Northern Hemispheres cohabitating now through September.