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Dinosaurs of Patagonia set to make appearance in Wellington


The cast of the Patagotitan mayorum in the workshop of Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio in Argentina. (Photo credit: Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio)

Venu Menon
Wellington, July 27,2023 

Te Papa will be the first museum in New Zealand to exhibit the dinosaurs of Patagonia, a recently-unearthed dinosaur fossil.

The exhibition will feature the 37-metre long Patagotitan Mayorum, a dinosaur “weighing more than 14 elephants.”

This prehistoric giant was excavated in South America in 2014. Sir David Attenborough, the globally acclaimed natural history broadcaster, has described it as “one of the most extraordinary finds in the history of palaeontology.”

The Patagotitan Mayoram was discovered when a shepherd and his dog stumbled on the the prehistoric herbivore’s massive skeleton in the Argentinian desert. 

Also on exhibit will be the  dinosaur’s 2.4-metre-long femur (thigh bone), weighing half a ton. The fossil is among the biggest dinosaur bones on the planet. 

The exhibition will feature one of the world’s smallest dinosaurs, Manidens Condorensis, that are “about the size of a pukeko and weigh 1kg.”

The oldest dinosaurs in the upcoming exhibition lived 230 million years ago, while  the more recent ones lived 66 million years ago, according to Te Papa. 

“The immersive interactive exhibition includes scientific casts of a dozen Patagonian dinosaurs. The precise replica skeletons are made using 3 D scanning and offer unparalleled detail and scale,” a Te Papa note says. 

Says Te Papa palaeontologist Dr Felix Marx: “These Patagonian giants are some of the most important dinosaur discoveries of all time.”

He says the sheer scale of these animals is “mind-blowing, and they give us incredible new insights into dinosaur evolution.”

Dr Marx notes the dinosaurs that will be on display   at Te Papa are from the Southern hemisphere and differ from the “well-known Northern hemisphere dinosaurs.”

“These dinosaurs once walked the continent of Gondwanaland. They are giants from our own backyard,” Dr Marx says. 

Gondwanaland refers to the prehistoric continent formed when Antarctica was joined to South America, Africa, India and Australia, some 200 million years ago.

A technician at Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio in Argentina works on one of the casts from Dinosaurs of Patagonia. (Photo credit: Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio)

Says Te Papa Chief Executive Courtney Johnston: “For so many people a love of dinosaurs sparks a lifelong love of science and learning. We are so excited to bring this global sensation to Aotearoa.”

The  dinosaur exhibits originate from the Paleontological Museum Egidio Feruglio (MEF), the only centre of its kind based in the city of Trelew in the Patagonia region of Argentina.MEF is known for its larger-than-life exhibits that “tell the story of the life forms that lived in Patagonia millions of years in the past.”

Te Papa expects to surpass the two previous dinosaur exhibitions that ranked among the museum’s “most popular ticketed exhibitions of all time.”

The life-size replica of T Rex displayed in 2014/15 drew 127,000 visitors, while the Dinosaurs from China exhibition in 2003 attracted 104,000 visitors. 

“Te Papa visitors expect a wow factor, and that’s exactly what this show will deliver ,” pledges Te Papa CEO Johnston. 

The exhibition opens at Te Papa on 16 December 2023 and runs until 28 April 2024. 

To register interest the public is advised to email Dinosaurs@tepapa.govt.nz

Venu Menon is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Wellington

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