Viva Maximo! The Field Museum’s Titanosaurus

2018 was a banner year for the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Just as their iconic T-Rex, Sue, was dismantled and relocated upstairs in a more complete representation, they also welcomed the addition of some stunning Pterosaurs and a gigantic Titanosaur. Maximo has now secured his position as the king of Stanley Field Hall and definitely worth making a special trip to see…especially if you plan it on or after December 21st after Sue makes her dramatic return.

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FINALLY finding Louisville’s 1964 New York World’s Fair Triceratops!

In 2016 I posted about the Sinclair dinosaurs featured at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and my quest to eventually track them all down. In some ways, it was a celebratory blog as I’d just seen the first two outside my Chicago where “Archie” the duckbill has resided since I was a kid. Finding the T-Rex and Apatosaurus in Glen Rose, Texas was great but not my first attempt at finding one. Earlier in 2015, I was traveling through Louisville and searching all over an industrial park in search of the elusive Triceratops. This dinosaur spent some time in the Louisville Science Center before being sent into “storage” a.k.a. a parking lot in an industrial park. At the time, I was on a tight schedule and unsuccessful in finding the Triceratops in the short window I had. I’m happy to say that my second attempt last weekend was much more fruitful.

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Antarctic Dinosaurs Give Chicago the Chills!

While Chicago’s beloved Tyrannosaurus Rex, Sue, prepares for her illustrious return next spring, the Field Museum of Natural History has gone above and beyond making sure us dinosaur fans stay committed. It began with the arrival of “Maximo,” a full-size cast of Patagotitan mayorum – the largest land animal ever discovered. Old Max has done a stellar job filling the spot once occupied by Sue in the museum’s immense Stanley Field Hall. He’s joined by some amazing flying reptiles (which I’ll be covering soon) and a special, temporary exhibit called “Antarctic Dinosaurs.” This often overlooked region for dinosaur discovery has produced some incredible finds, including prehistoric animals exclusive to the region. This exhibit not only highlights those creatures but the brave men and women who helped bring them to light – including some who paid with their lives.  

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Fredosaurus Rex – Won’t you eat, my neighbor?

Mr. Rogers Neighborhood has gotten a surge of popularity these days thanks to the critically acclaimed, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?.  The documentary film chronicles the life of Fred Rogers whom many of us middle-agers remember as the soft-spoken guy routinely changing his shoes before taking us to “The Land of Make-Believe.” Long before there were 24-hour kids’ programming, PBS was about the only weekday respite from soap operas and game shows. Knowing we were a captive audience until the big networks’ rolled out their Saturday morning cartoons, PBS used this as an opportunity to teach us a thing or two. My favorite episode was when Margaret Hamilton a.k.a. The Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of West paid a visit. I was scared to death of her as a kid and her presence on the show eased my anxieties a lot. I also vividly remember when that Purple Panda showed up and, come to think of it, what the heck was that thing anyway? By now you’re all probably wondering what any of this has to do with dinosaurs. Well, it seems that Fred’s native Pittsburgh has a rather unique tribute to “Mr. Rogers” – one where he’s reimagined as a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

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Milwaukee Zoo’s “Jurassic Journey” Dinosaur Exhibit!

 

Many zoos around the country offer guests a chance to see prehistoric animals alongside their living ones. This is thanks to the skilled craftsman and animatronic wizards of several companies including Billings Productions, Inc. who offer their clients a selection of over three hundred different prehistoric animals to choose from. As of this date, I’ve seen robotic dinosaurs at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo, the North Carolina Zoo, Franklin Park Zoo in New England, and a few in Milwaukee. Although I love Natural history museums and their collection of fossils, these life-like representations are a great way to envision yourself standing before living ones. The Milwaukee County Zoo is about two hours north of me and I make a point to visit them at least twice a year. It’s a decent sized park with elephants, bears, and a large collection of big cats so never disappoints. They’ve featured dinosaurs and even giant bugs every couple years or so, though always with a different selection. The cost is $3 per person (in addition to their regular admission fees) and well worth it!

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Illinois’ Dryptosaurus Stalks Lake County Museum

Due to erosion, fossils from the Mesozoic Era are largely missing from my native Illinois. Despite no dinosaur discoveries, Paleontologists are still pretty sure they were here – reinforced by species of the same dinos found above and below us. One of these is a theropod called Dryptosaurus; a dinosaur I’d never heard of until last week after receiving my monthly newsletter from national horror host, Svengoolie. In it, the man who designed a gorgeous replica of the animal was posing next to it at a museum I’d never heard of despite being just an hour north of me. It was time for another Prehistoric Pit Stop…

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T-Rex “Stan” at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science!

While traveling through the Southwest in 2016, I stopped off at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque. The purpose was to see their traveling Buzzsaw Sharks of Long Ago exhibit currently featured at the University of Texas in Austin. It featured Helicoprion fossils as well some fantastic life-size sculptures and over twenty original works of art courtesy of Ray Troll. Though it was ancient sharks that originally drew me to this Prehistoric Pit Stop, they had a pretty nice fossil collection of their own, including yet another cast of Tyrannosaurus Rex, “Stan.”

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