The following information came directly from the American Museum of Natural History
Dinosaurs Among Us, (thru January 2, 2017) examines how one group of dinosaurs evolved into the fascinating living creatures we call birds. The exhibition highlights the continuities between living dinosaurs—birds—and their extinct ancestors, showcasing remarkable new evidence for what scientists now call one of the best-documented evolutionary transitions in the history of life.
The next time you avoid tripping over a pigeon on the sidewalk, remark on the fact that you just had an encounter with a modern dinosaur. Living birds belong to a group, or clade, called the Dinosauria. It includes extinct dinosaurs and all of their living descendants, which is why most scientists say that birds are a kind of dinosaur. Of course, many years of evolution have resulted in many physical differences between the dinosaurs that went extinct 66 million years ago and the birds we see today. But there also are many similarities, some perhaps very surprising. Even T. rex, which is hard to compare to a bird you’d spot in a park today, was likely feathered, and we know it had a gigantic version of a piece of bird anatomy that is part of Thanksgiving traditions: a wishbone, or furcula.
Dinosaurs Among Us features ancient, rarely seen fossils, and life-like models, including a 23-foot-long feathered tyrannosaur (Yutyrannus huali) and a small four-winged dromeosaur (Anchiornis huxleyi)with a 22-inch wingspan and vivid, patterned plumage. Visitors will encounter a tiny dinosaur whose sleeping posture precisely echoes that of a living bird, an extinct-dinosaur nest containing remains of the adult that guarded the hatchlings, and the fossil cast of a relative of Triceratops that had simple feathers on its body.
The exhibition, comes on the heels of the unveiling of a 122-foot-long titanosaur cast on permanent display in the Museum’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Orientation Center, is part of a series of events, public programs, exhibitions, and digital offerings highlighting dramatic developments in paleontology.
Dinosaurs Among Us is curated by Mark Norell, Macaulay Curator in the Division of Paleontology and the division’s chair. The exhibition will be open to the public from Monday, March 21, 2016, to January 2, 2017.
The Museum gratefully acknowledges theRichard and Karen LeFrak Exhibition and Education Fund.
The exhibition will also discuss some interesting facts:
- Alligators and crocodiles are birds’ closest living relatives
- The eggs of some oviraptorosaurs were blue-green. Today’s birds are the only living animals to have colored eggshells; crocs and alligators, and other reptiles and mammals all have white eggs.
- Some extinct dinosaurs made nests and brooded their young in a manner very like that of some living birds.
- Despite the expression “bird brain,” birds have very large brains for their body size—6 to 11 times bigger than those of equivalent-sized reptiles. Some non-bird theropod dinosaurs had this brain inflation in the cerebrum, or the “thinking” part of the brain, suggesting they were probably capable of advanced learned behavior. Many living birds are adept learners.
- Birds have hollow bones and most scientists assumed this trait evolved along with flight. But recent discoveries of hollow bones of large, flightless dinosaurs like Allosaurus, indicate that like many other bird characteristics, hollow bones appear early in the dinosaur family tree.
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