Melting polar ice doesn’t often signify good news to anyone except, perhaps, paleontologists. The shifting global climate has, in fact, revealed a plethora of prehistoric bones for scientists to study. Many recent Antarctic dinosaur discoveries are now on view in a traveling exhibit called Antarctic Dinosaurs at Chicago’s Field Museum , but you only have until January 19th to catch these old bones before they travel to their next museum stop in Los Angeles.
According to the museum, the Antarctic was a “wooded, lush habitat” 200 million years ago. Dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures thrived in this environment. What’s unique about the Field’s latest dinosaur exhibit is that it doesn’t just spotlight the dinosaurs, but also the intrepid explorers and scientists who traveled to the forbidding continent and braved its extreme conditions to perform their work. What was historically lush and wooded is, today, barren and icy.
The temporary exhibit spans 7,500 square feet–plenty of space to showcase dinosaur fossils–and includes both digital and mechanical interactive devices. The exhibit features a custom soundscape and ambient lighting that is sure to captivate dinosaur enthusiasts both young and old. Immersive models and innovative replications add a life-like touch to many of the exhibit’s displays. In short, when visiting the Field’s Antarctic Dinosaur exhibit, expect to be ‘transported’ to the lost continent through its meticulously crafted scenes and experiential activities.
While there are many noteworthy aspects of the traveling exhibit, one of its highlights is a focus on Robert Scott and his doomed second Antarctic expedition, when the heroic explorer lost his life on Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf , the continent’s largest ice shelf (that is roughly the size of France). The exhibit includes nearly 50 fossils and specimens collected by Scott and his team as well as various pieces of equipment that were used during their fateful journey to the South Pole.
Visitors to this Field Museum temporary exhibit will also witness some of the very first fossils ever discovered in Antarctica, many of which predate the dinosaurs. They’ll also get to see a modern-day quarry camp and learn how today’s Antarctic scientists work in the extreme cold–and how their dress and equipment differs from explorers from Scott’s Heroic Age .
If you’re visiting the museum with kids, then the Mount Kirkpatrick (aka Dinosaur Mountain) feature of the exhibit is not to be missed! On Dinosaur Mountain, scientists discovered the 25 ft long Cryolophosaurus, one of the world’s largest discovered Jurassic theropods. Other toothy examples of dinosaurs are also displayed in this section of the exhibit.
Finally, the exhibit makes a point to illustrate how climate has transformed Antarctica–and continues to do so. It features “lessons” about climate change and compares the changes the continent is going through today with the changes it has experienced over the last several hundred million years.
With kids’ vacation time coming up during the holiday season, be sure to set aside some time to visit the Field Museum and its Antarctic Dinosaurs. Of course, this exhibit has plenty of interesting content for adults too. When visiting, be sure to check out the museum’s other popular exhibits, too, like the Fantastic Bug Encounters, Nature Walk and Messages from the Wilderness, and Underground Adventure.