There are many perks to living in New York City, and now we can add to that list getting up close and personal to one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered on Earth.
A 122-foot-long titanosaur, an herbivore from the Cretaceous period, went on display Friday, January 15, on the dinosaur-packed fourth floor of the American Museum of Natural History—and, happily, it really does live up to the hype. It is massive! Preschoolers to teens will love walking around and underneath the life-size skeleton cast. Read on for more details on this must-see new exhibit, including a video showing its construction.
Even with its neck lowered, this titanosaur, thought to have weighed 70 tons, almost touches the gallery's 19-foot-tall ceiling. Its head peeks out into the elevator bank area, while the large ribcage and sharp bones spike out along the underside of its 39-foot-long neck.
The skeleton on display is made of lightweight 3D fiberglass prints. Its actual bones are too heavy to mount. Displayed in a darkened room and strategically lit from below, it's hard to tell that these aren't the actual bones unearthed in the desert of Patagonia. Five original fossils—the femur, humerus, ulna, radius and scapula—are also on display next to the full dino.
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The cast is made of 3D fiberglass prints while several actual fossils are displayed nearby.
It took 18 months and heavy machinery like bulldozers to fully dig out the skeleton, according to Diego Pol, a paleontologist from Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio who co-led the excavation team. Spread over seven expeditions, each involving teams of 25 people, digging was limited to spring and summer months as winter conditions in Argentina's Patagonia were too harsh for archeological digs, he explained during a press event for the unveiling. Pol and his team came upon the bones in 2012 after a rancher stopped by the museum to tell staff about fossils on his land.
The newly discovered dinosaur doesn't have an official name yet. Instead, it's been added to the group of dinosaurs known as titanosaurs, but a proper classification and naming of this particular species is to be determined.
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It took workers six months to install the cast, which reaches the top of the 19-foot ceilings.
The titanosaur will remain on display "indefinitely," according to the museum while the real fossils will stick around for at least the rest of 2016. The new addition will help kick off a year of dinosaur discoveries at the Natural History Museum, which will introduce another exhibit, Dinosaurs Among Us, in March 2016.
Once you've taken in the titanosaur exhibit, be sure to browse through AMNH's world-famous dinosaur halls on the fourth floor. All told, the museum's fossil collection includes 6 million specimens, including 5 million fossil invertebrates and close to 1 million fossil vertebrates.
Also on display on the fourth floor, but not as large as the titanosaur, is a fellow sauropod, the Apatosaurus at 86-feet long and nearly 40 tons. And on the subject of size, the museum's famous 94-foot blue whale model is nearly 30-feet shorter than the titanosaur, although blue whales beat it on the scales, weighing up to 200 tons.
Kids will also enjoy the ongoing Secret World Inside You exhibit at the museum (open through August 2016) and walking into the butterfly conservatory, where the winged creatures will land on those patient enough (open through May 2016).
All photos and video courtesy of New York City's American Museum of Natural History.