By Carol Tannenhauser
The American Museum of Natural History is turning 150 years old on April 6th. To celebrate, it is launching a multi-year series of events and programs, beginning with a major new exhibition called T. rex: The Ultimate Predator, opening for preview by members on March 8th and to the general public on March 11th.
“It seems fitting,”said Museum President Ellen V. Futter, at a recent media event. “Dinosaurs, and Tyrannosaurus rex in particular, are such an important and iconic part of the Museum and have been throughout our history.”
It was the Museum’s legendary paleontologist and fossil hunter Barnum Brown who discovered the first T. rex skeleton in Montana in 1902.
The exhibition is highly interactive and was greatly appreciated by the fifth graders from PS 87, who attended the press preview, gathering around the knobs and buttons of the various features. At the far end of the exhibition hall, a girl waved her arms at an animated T. rex projected on a screen, whereupon the creature “responded” to her movements, charging at her so fiercely, she flinched. At the other end of the hall, people wearing headsets and wielding controllers “built” a dinosaur in the Museum’s first virtual-reality experience, adding bones to a floating skeleton only they could see. Though those realities were virtual, the massive skeleton of the Tyrannosaurus rex in the center of the hall is definitely not, nor are the stunning, life-sized models depicting the development of the creature from a vulnerable fledgling to the ultimate predator.
Drawing on the most scientifically accurate representation of the T. Rex to date, the models reveal the little-known fact that the king of the dinosaurs had feathers! He also had teeth that grew back repeatedly and could chew through and pulverize bone.
To see and learn more about T. Rex and the Museum’s other plans for its anniversary celebration, go to amnh.org/150. If all goes according to plan, the celebration will culminate with the opening of the proposed new Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation in 2021.
Photos courtesy of Museum of Natural History.