Millions of years before it was covered in ice, the land mass we know as Antarctica was a lush habitat where dinosaurs lived — and, starting this weekend, visitors to the Natural History Museum of Utah will get to see what those creatures looked like.
“Antarctic Dinosaurs” is a new touring exhibit, developed by Chicago’s Field Museum — in partnership with NHMU, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and Discovery Place in Charlotte, N.C. It will run at NHMU, at 301 Wakara Way in Salt Lake City, from Saturday through April 4, 2021.
The exhibit shows examples of dinosaurs that lived in Antarctica 200 million years ago, when it was part of the supercontinent Gondwana — before the wooded land mass was moved, through plate tectonics, to the frosty south pole. The exhibit features a skeleton and a lifelike replica of the 25-foot-long cryolophosaurus, the largest and most complete theropod from the Early Jurassic period ever found on Earth.
Visitors also will learn how paleontologists braved frozen conditions to carefully extract and preserve fossils found in one of the harshest environments on the planet.
NHMU was an early collaborator with the exhibition, museum officials said, hosting the Field Museum’s staff in 2016 on the first concepts for the show, and building prototypes that would form the basis of its interactive elements. Those elements have been modified to prevent the spread of COVID-19, employing NHMU’s use of a stylus on anything that would once have required a finger touch.
Tickets are $14.95 for adults, $12.95 for young adults (ages 13 to 24) and seniors (65 and up), $9.95 for children (3 to 12), and free for toddlers accompanied by an adult. Tickets must be bought in advance, online at nhmu.utah.edu. The museum is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Face coverings are required for all visitors, staff and volunteers.