Dinosaur exhibit opens Jan. 20 at Historical Museum

For immediate release January 12, 2007


Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

(DES MOINES) – The State Historical Museum will give visitors a rare and exciting look at the life of dinosaurs through their eggs, nests and embryos in a new exhibit January 20 through May 7, 2007.

Hatching the Past: The Great Dinosaur Egg Hunt is a hands-on exhibit that offers an array of authentic dinosaur eggs and nests collected from all over the globe – including those of each of the major plant- and meat-eating dinosaur groups. Admission to “Hatching the Past” is $5 per person, $2 for children 12 and under and free for State Historical Society of Iowa members. Tickets are available at the Iowa Museum Store in the State Historical Building, 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines’ Historic East Village. Hours are 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and Noon-4:30 p.m. Sunday. Call 515-281-5111 or visit www.iowahistory.org for more information.

Although dinosaur eggs were first identified in the 1920s, their scientific significance was not fully appreciated until the end of the 20th century. Today, dinosaur eggs are recognized for their scientific value and for offering details and insights into the behavior, growth and evolution of dinosaurs.

“When most of us think of dinosaurs, we think of fully grown adults,” said Cyndi Pederson, interim director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. “This exhibit showcases the amazing science of dinosaur eggs – how and where scientists have discovered eggs and nests, and the remarkable stories these fossilized eggs reveal about dinosaur life.”

“Hatching the Past” presents new findings about dinosaur reproduction and behavior and introduces some of the people and science behind the discoveries. The multi-media experience helps give credence to long debated theories that dinosaurs and birds are closely related.

A captivating experience for all ages, “Hatching the Past” invites visitors to see or touch more than 300 dinosaur bones and reconstructed nests – one more than eight feet in diameter – dig for eggs, experience hands-on exploration stations and view animated video presentations featuring dinosaur experts.

The collection of fossils includes an authentic bowling ball-sized egg of a sauropod from Argentina laid by a long-necked, plant-eating titanosaur that lived 75 million years ago; a large cluster of eggs laid by a duck-billed, plant-eating dinosaur; and the longest dinosaur eggs ever discovered – almost 18 inches long – laid by a newly discovered giant species of the ostrich-like oviraptor.

The exhibit’s central feature is “Baby Louie,” the nearly complete skeleton of a dinosaur embryo. Charlie Magovern made this rare discovery in 1993 while cleaning a large block of eggs discovered in China. He nicknamed the embryo after National Geographic photographer Louie Psihoyos.

“Hatching the Past” was developed by Charlie and Florence Magovern of The Stone Company, Boulder, Colorado, in association with the Harvard Museum of Natural History. The Magoverns gained national recognition when their work was featured as the cover story in the May 1996 issue of National Geographic.

“HATCHING THE PAST”PROGRAMS – Location: State Historical Museum unless otherwise noted.

January 20, 2007
“GEOLOGY ROCKS…and Minerals too…”
11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Visitors to the museum can see minerals and treasures unearthed in Iowa and learn about rocks, fossils and the environment from the state’s leading paleontologists and geologists. Special guest, Cindy Blobaum, author of Geology Rocks: 50 Hands -on Activities to Explore the Earth will sign books and lead museum visitors through hands-on discovery experiments. Bring in your geological finds and ask the experts to help you classify or compare your found treasures.

February 24, 2007
“The Geology of Polk County”
11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Lectures by leading Iowa geologists and paleontologists. Iowa geodes will be given away to the first 200 visitors. Learn about the interesting geological history that Polk County has experienced in the last 4.5 billion years. Did you know that Des Moines sits on top of an old mountain or that the area was a tropical beach 300 million years ago? Does your house sit on top of an old coal mine or in a river valley that flowed through the east side of Des Moines? Do you know how the last glacier has influenced where you live? A lecture on the geology of Polk County will be given by Michael Blair, a local author and educator who has been presenting for more than 30 years in the United States and abroad.

March 30, 2007
An Evening with Jack Horner
Special members-only reception (Reception free to State Historical Society members with advance purchase of ticket to 7 p.m. lecture listed below.)
6:30 p.m.
State Historical Society of Iowa members are invited to a special reception in the “Hatching the Past: The Great Dinosaur Egg Hunt” exhibit area with Paleontologist Jack Horner prior to the public lecture and book signing. Members attending the reception will receive VIP seating to the public lecture at 7 p.m. Please note that members must RSVP by March 29 by calling 515-281-8823. Memberships begin at $50 and may be purchased at the Iowa Museum store or by calling 515-281-8823.

Horner, who discovered his first dinosaur fossil at age 8, has made some of the most important recent dinosaur discoveries, written several books about his experiences and theories, and served as a technical adviser for Jurassic Park, The Lost World (Jurassic Park II) and Jurassic Park III, serving as partial inspiration for the movie’s lead character, Dr. Alan Grant.

Most recently, Horner has been credited with discovering the largest Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex) to date. Estimated to have once weighed between 10 and 13 tons (22,000–28,600 lbs.), it is substantially larger than Tyrannosaurus Sue, and has also produced many new theories on the ways these creatures lived. Most interestingly, the T. rex was discovered with five other T. rex fossils which indicates that they may have been moving as a pack when they died.

In Montana during mid-1970s, Horner and his partner, Bob Makela, discovered a colonial nesting site of a new dinosaur species which they named Maiasaura, or “Good Mother Lizard.” It contained the first dinosaur eggs in the Western hemisphere, the first dinosaur embryos, and settled questions of whether some dinosaurs were sociable, built nests and cared for their young. The discovery established his career. Horner has named several other species of dinosaur and has had two named after him: Achelosaurus horneri and Anasazisaurus horneri.

March 30, 2007
“Dinosaur Growth and Behavior” presentation by Jack Horner
Public Lecture and Book Signing
Tickets: $8 members/$10 non-members at www.iowatix.com or at the door
7 p.m.
One of America’s best-known paleontologists will be at the Historical Museum for a book signing and public lecture. Within the paleontology community, Horner is known for his work on the cutting edge of dinosaur growth research. Horner’s lecture will compare previous and recent discoveries that provide new information on dinosaur growth and behavior.

March 31, 2007
“Dinosaur Growth and Behavior” presentation by Jack Horner
Public Lecture and Book Signing
Tickets: $8 members/ $10 non-members at www.iowatix.com at the door
11 a.m. & 2 p.m.
One of America’s best-known paleontologists will be at the Historical Museum for a book signing and public lecture. Within the paleontology community, Horner is known for his work on the cutting edge of dinosaur growth research. Horner’s lecture will compare previous and recent discoveries that provide new information on dinosaur growth and behavior.

March 31, 2007
Movies at the Museum: “Jurassic Park” with introduction by Paleontologist Jack Horner
4 p.m.
Tickets: $5 per person at www.iowatix.com or at the door
On a remote island, a wealthy entrepreneur secretly creates a theme park featuring living dinosaurs drawn from prehistoric DNA. Before opening the attraction to the public, he invites a top paleontologist, a paleobotanist, a mathematician/theorist, and his two eager grandchildren to experience the park – and help calm anxious investors. However, their park visit is anything but tranquil as the park’s security system breaks down, the prehistoric creatures break out, and the excitement builds to surprising results.

April, 2007
“Field Trip to the Saylorville Gorge”
Time TBA
Take a field trip to the Saylorville Gorge. Participants will be joined by representatives of the Central Iowa Mineral Society, rangers at Saylorville and State Historical Society Curatorial Staff. The focus will be on the geography of the gorge, flooding of the area and the surrounding prairie.

The State Historical Society of Iowa is a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa’s past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa’s historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.


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