The Dinosaur Expo 2019
13 July – 14 October 2019
National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo
The National Museum of Nature and Science, located in Ueno Park, Tokyo, is currently hosting the Dinosaur Expo 2019 until mid-October.
The exhibition cerebrates 50 years since the naming of a remarkable dinosaur “Deinonychus”, which led to a golden era of paleontology. In this show, rare dinosaur fossils and skeletons, some of which are shown for the first time in the world, highlight the recent development of dinosaur research.
Along with the Deinonychus, the star attractions include the Deinocheirus – a peculiar dinosaur with a duck-like bill – and the Mukawa-ryu, a newly found dinosaur species from Hokkaido, northern Japan.
The impressive exhibits come from the national museum and its collaborative institutions, including Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and the Institute of Paleontology and Geology at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences.
The exhibition is accessible to overseas visitors, with multilingual panels and English audio-guide (fees extra).
Highlights of the Dinosaur Expo 2019
◆ Deinonychus and the “dinosaur renaissance”
The fearsome dinosaur discovered in 1964 by Dr. John Ostrom and his interpretation linking it to birds inaugurated what has come to be termed the “dinosaur renaissance” in subsequent decades.
The dinosaur, named in 1969 Deinonychus or “terrible claw”, turned out to be an agile predator. That changed the traditional view of dinosaurs as slow-moving, sluggish beasts. It also gave rise to the theories of warm-blooded and avian dinosaurs, suggesting the dinosaur origin of modern birds.
◆ Deinocheirus, a mysterious dinosaur unveiled
In 1965, a 2.4 meter-long forefoot fossil, 70 million years old, was discovered in the Gobi desert in Mongolia. The dinosaur was named in 1970 Deinocheirus mirificus or ‘unusual horrible hand‘. But it remained a mysterious dinosaur, as the other parts of the body were missing.
Then two sets of fossils were discovered recently, with the skull, torso and back feet. That has revealed the Deinocheirus’ rather unique characteristics: it had long, clawed forearms, a protruding “sail” on its back and a duck-like bill.
◆ Life of dinosaurs
The section features recent discoveries in dinosaur research, regarding, for instance, the nesting behaviour and the distinction between males and females.
Among the exhibits here are a pair of Khaan mckennai dinosaurs dubbed “Romeo and Juliet”, buried together in the Gobi Desert 75 million years ago.
◆ Mukawa-ryu, a new species from Japan
In 2003, some fossils were discovered from the geological layer of 72 million years ago in Mukawa town, Hokkaido. Later, about 80 % of the bones of the 8 meter-long Mukawa-ryu were excavated. It was a new species of dinosaur belonging to the Hadrosaur group.
◆The boundary of extinction
To arrive at this section, visitors must pass through a smaller opening – symbolic of the temporal boundary before and after the mass extinction; this is also a reminder that a fraction of living things nonetheless survived.
The dinosaur extinction may have been triggered by a giant meteor clash on the earth 66 million years ago.
The section features the “K/Pg boundary” that captures the epochal moment in earth’s history. The kinds of fossils found dramatically change between the lower and the upper geologic layers.
◆ Cleaning laboratory
All these skeletons come out as the result of laborious extraction by specialists called “preparators”.
◆ Continuing further
At the end of visit at the museum’s dino-themed souvenir shop, continue your paleontology journey to the Dinosaur Hall downstairs. It is a permanent exhibition, free for the show’s visitors.
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