Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Revisting 'Dinosaurs Among Us'

On Monday, I returned to the American Museum of Natural History for the last day of the Dinosaurs Among Us exhibit, which I had covered in a previous blog post. As I mentioned in that previous post, one of the centerpieces of the exhibit is a life-sized model of Yutyrannus huali, a thirty-foot long feathered tyrannosaur. There was also a cast of the fossilized skeleton of Yutyrannus, demonstrating the feather impressions.

Among the models I didn't cover in my previous post was Beipiaosaurus inexpectus, one of the unusual Therizinosaurs, herbivorous Maniraptoran dinosaurs with large foreclaws that are thought to have lived in a manner similar to that of the extinct ground sloths.

One non-dinosaur archosaur featured in the exhibit was Effigia okeeffeae, a relative of the crocodilians which, through convergent evolution, resembled the ornithomimid dinosaurs that evolved much later.

Amid the gorgeous reproductions of feathered dinosaurs, there was another interesting specimen was Jeholornis, which had the asymmetrical feathers conducive to flight.

Perhaps the most unusual dinosaur in the exhibit, represented by a small placard, was Yi qi, an oddball dinosaur from the Late Jurassic which, while feathered had membranous wings similar to those of a bat. Yi was probably a glider, and it represents a 'failed experiment' in dinosaurian flight... the fact that flight, or at least gliding, evolved in two vastly different forms in the dinosaur lineage is pretty mind-blowing.

The other displays, displaying evidence of nesting behaviors and casts of brains, didn't fail to amaze on a second visit. One pelvis of an oviraptorid dinosaur provided evidence that these dinosaurs had two oviducts, 'egg tubes', while modern birds have one:

Also, there was a life-sized model of a Velociraptor, resplendent in dove-gray feathers:

These dinosaurs were about the size of a wild turkey, and would not have served well as threats in a Spielberg movie.

This local news story gives a brief snippet of the exhibit. If it arrives in a museum near you, I would advise you to check it out, but in the interest of full disclosure, I am a huge dinosaur nerd.

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