New Exhibit Updates Story of Dinosaur Era

An AMNH model of 'Beipiaosaurus'

A museum model of Beipiaosaurus, a bird-like carnivorous theropod covered with protofeathers -- the precursors to the feathers found on living birds. Roderick Mickens/American Museum of Natural History hide caption

itoggle caption Roderick Mickens/American Museum of Natural History

VIDEO: Digital Dinosaurs

Scientists use computerized versions of dinosaurs to gain insight into how they really moved. In this video, AMNH scientists explain how they animate the extinct giant 'T. rex' using clues from modern animals.

A model of Jeholopterus ningchengensis i

A model of Jeholopterus ningchengensis, a small pterosaur covered with hair-like structures, which is featured in the American Museum of Natural History's exhibit "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries." Craig Chesek/American Museum of Natural History hide caption

itoggle caption Craig Chesek/American Museum of Natural History
A model of Jeholopterus ningchengensis

A model of Jeholopterus ningchengensis, a small pterosaur covered with hair-like structures, which is featured in the American Museum of Natural History's exhibit "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries."

Craig Chesek/American Museum of Natural History

A new exhibit opening Saturday at the American Museum of Natural History in New York puts the latest dinosaur discoveries on display — including new findings of feathered dinosaurs from China. The ambitious project presents a vision of the world as it was 130 million years ago, recreating how extinct creatures lived and moved.

A major highlight of the exhibit is the enormous Liaoning Forest diorama, a detailed recreation of the environment of prehistoric China that includes the sounds of insects to help put visitors in the scene.

The region has yielded fossils of some of the most startling discoveries in the exhibit — the first feathered dinosaurs. These animals couldn't fly. Scientists are trying to figure out what the feathers were for, and how these dinosaurs might be related to the first fliers.

On video screens sprinkled throughout the exhibition hall, scientists provide commentary on their research. Other interactive displays let you see how different stimuli — a poke in the ribs, for example — would affect how giants like the 60-foot-long plant-eater Apatosaurus moved.

"We've got lots of new information about dinosaurs — lots of new stories to tell you about how they moved, how they behaved, even how they died," says Lauri Halderman of the museum's exhibition design team. "But we've also got this thread going through that says, 'We don't just want you to know what we know, but we want you to know how we know it.'"

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