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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Quetzalcoatlus Lands at the Field Museum of Natural History!

Maximo isn’t the only new, permanent feature at Chicago’s Field Museum. The immense Titanosaur brought along a few flying reptiles to further engage us until the return of our favorite T-Rex, Sue. Of course, Pterosaurs aren’t new to this museum and even before the big changes a pteranodon hovered over Stanley Field Hall; directing guests to the “Evolving Planet” exhibit upstairs. That model, however, has been dwarfed by its replacement – a life-sized, flying Quetzalcoatlus!

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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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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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A Prehistoric Pit Stop at the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research!

Last August, I took my kids on a South Dakota road trip while making some prehistoric pit stops along the way. At the top of the list was the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research which I’ve wanted to visit for some time. T-Rex enthusiasts know these are the folks who excavated “Sue” and “Stan” and are renowned for their marvelous replicas. To be in “dinosaur country” was particularly exhilarating for a Chicago guy like me, and I was downright giddy when we pulled into the museum’s lot that gorgeous summer evening. We would not be disappointed.

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Buzzsaw Sharks at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science!

Continuing on with my 2016 visit to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science, I should mention what drew me there in the first place. I was in the midst of a two week/3,000 mile southwest road trip and looking for things to do while passing through Albuquerque. What caught my attention was the museum featuring the traveling exhibit, “Buzzsaw Sharks from Long Ago” featuring one of the strangest members of the shark family tree, Helicoprions. These fish are notable for their unusual mouths with spiral clusters of teeth called “whorls.” For this reason, the extinct family of fish is commonly referred to as “buzzsaw sharks.”

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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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The Tumultuous Life & Times of Sue the T-Rex

I stopped by Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History last week to get a final look at Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex before the fossil is dismantled (see the previous story HERE) next month. Looking over the signage, I thought this might be a good opportunity to share some interesting tidbits with photos to help illuminate the difficult life of a T-Rex. So here are some interesting facts about Sue…

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Tyrannosaurus Rex Sue is Movin’ on Up!

Call me biased, but I think Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History is one of the best of its kind. I live and grew up just twenty-five minutes south of the city’s Museum Campus which, in addition to Field, includes the John G. Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium. Between recreational family visits and school field trips these institutions would be a staple of my youth with the Field Museum my favorite. As a child, I was guaranteed to see dinosaurs and maybe even bring one home courtesy of their twenty-five cent Mold-a-Rama machines. By the time Sue entered the scene, I was twenty-nine years old and married with kids of my own. I remember the entire city abuzz with news of the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever discovered moving in. “Her” arrival was accompanied by a huge media blitz and I recall driving to work one morning and hearing a local DJ parody the old hit, “Runaround Sue,” about it.

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CollectA goes Full Frontal with Megacerops!

I just returned from visiting the Dakotas while making a few Prehistoric Pit Stops along the way. Ironically, a couple of those excursions tied in with a figure I’d just received before I left – CollectA’s Megacerops. This model is part of their Prehistoric Life Collection and, just like their Deinotherium model I reviewed in my last post, breaks the mold in terms of scientific accuracy! Whereas the previous figure depicted a relative of the modern day elephant, this two-toed ungulate was a member of the Titanothere family which shares ancestry with today’s horses, tapirs, and rhinos. It definitely looks like a rhinoceros cousin with its double horns though, unlike rhinos, these are part of the animal’s skull and “true” horns. Their unique appearance illustrates once again how diverse and amazing our planet’s prehistoric mammals truly were.

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Chicago’s Field Museum Welcomes JURASSIC WORLD: the Exhibition!

I’m pretty sure I speak for every dinosaur fan over forty that JURASSIC PARK (1993) was a game changer. I was twenty-two years old when it premiered and remember being totally blown away at the site of realistic looking dinosaurs on the silver screen. I had no trouble whatsoever relating to Dr. Alan Grant as he fell to his knees, all teary from seeing his lifelong obsessions come to life. True, the character was seeing them in person and not in a theater like we were, but it was pure magic nonetheless. Nearly twenty-five years later, I was finally able to get a taste of what it would have been like to be Dr. Grant thanks to an official JURASSIC WORLD Universal Studios exhibition that made its way to the Field Museum of Natural History last month and is running through January 8, 2018.

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