ROM’s New Age of Dinosaurs and Age of Mammals Galleries Open December 15 & 16

This Holiday Season, celebrate the opening weekend of the first Michael Lee-Chin Crystal Galleries

Dinosaurs are back at the ROM! The weekend of December 15 and 16, 2007 marks the much-anticipated opening of the James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs, which along with the Gallery of the Age of Mammals, will be the first two permanent galleries to open in the Royal Ontario Museum’s (ROM) spectacular new addition, the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal.

The prism-shaped galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs and Age of Mammals boast 1,450 sq. metres (15,600 sq. feet) of space and 5.4-metre (18-foot) high ceilings to accommodate the Museum’s tallest specimens. The galleries are home to over 750 specimens, including 50 dinosaur specimens, of which 25 are fully-mounted skeletons, as well as 30 fossil mammal skeletons representing the diversity of life during the Age of Dinosaurs and the Age of Mammals.

“It is a pleasure to celebrate the opening of these two magnificent galleries, among the Museum’s most popular and scientifically prominent,” says ROM Director and CEO William Thorsell. “I am particularly delighted with the architecture and design of these spaces; leaning out over Bloor Street, their glass walls offer enticing outside glimpses of the hundreds of rare fossil specimens on view inside. These unique galleries are unlike any dinosaur exhibits you’ve ever seen before - at the ROM, or anywhere in the world.”

The large angular expanse of windows overlooking Bloor Street West will put on public display such beasts as “Gordo”, the ROM’s massive 27-metre (90-foot) Barosaurus skeleton, the largest dinosaur on permanent display in Canada and one of only two Barosaurus skeletons on display in the world. Other highlights include the ferocious Tyrannosaurus rex, and large display of the ROM’s rich hadrosaur collection, one of the best in the world. In both new galleries, a vast array of plant and animal specimens drawn from the ROM’s impressive collections, including several recent acquisitions, are installed in engaging displays that
illuminate not only the creatures themselves, but also the natural environments they inhabited.

"We are delighted to present the first in a series of Michael Lee-Chin Crystal galleries," said Gerry McCaughey, President and Chief Executive Officer of CIBC, the Inaugural Season Sponsor of the new ROM. "The opening of the Temerty Dinosaur Galleries along with the Gallery of the Age of Mammals is a tremendous milestone for the Museum and CIBC is pleased to play a role in bringing these exciting exhibits to the public."

James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs:

Approximately 350 specimens, including 50 dinosaur specimens, of which 25 of which are fully-mounted skeletons, will be featured in the Temerty Dinosaur Galleries. Divided into two general themes, Life on Land and Life in the Sea, the Galleries display fossils from the Jurassic (200 to 145 million years old) and Cretaceous (145 to 65 million years old) Periods. (Triassic Period fossils, 250 to 200 million years old, will be displayed in an adjacent gallery on Level 2 of the historic Queen’s Park building, opening in 2009.)

“After nearly five years of planning and preparing, it is so exciting to see the new galleries take shape,” says Coordinating Curator, Janet Waddington. “I also love that the galleries are not just about dinosaurs - there are plants, insects, marine life and more, giving a much fuller picture of life in the age of dinosaurs.”

The Galleries include a selection of the ROM’s most important specimens, including its most famous dinosaur, the rare and spectacular Parasaurolophus, a hadrosaur (duck-billed dinosaur) known for its tubular head crest that measures over one metre (three feet) long. Another is Gryposaurus, the first dinosaur ever to be acquired by the ROM. An entire wall will be dedicated to a variety of hadrosaurs, with a series of skulls tracking the growth of these extraordinary creatures.

A new highlight of the Temerty Dinosaur Galleries is the mounted skeleton of one of the largest known dinosaurs, a Barosaurus, which was recently rediscovered in the ROM’s own collections. Stretching the width of the east Crystal, the ROM’s Barosaurus is Canada’s only mounted sauropod skeleton consisting largely of real fossil bone and the largest dinosaur skeleton on permanent display in the country. The entire assembled skeleton is approximately 27 metres (90 feet) in length, and when alive would have weighed as much as 15,000 kilograms (15 tonnes). In recognition of Dr. Gordon Edmund, who acquired the specimen, the Museum has nicknamed the dinosaur “Gordo.” (See Massive Barosaurus Skeleton Discovered at the ROM news release in the Newsroom at www.rom.on.ca).

“When fully mounted, the Barosaurus will be an amazing addition to the gallery,” says Dr. David Evans, Associate Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology. “We have more original fossil material on display than ever before. The new gallery includes 25 fully-mounted dinosaur skeletons, which look stunning in their new space.”

With the closing of the old Dinosaur Gallery in 2005, the Museum was afforded the opportunity to remount nine specimens in accordance with the most current scientific thought. The hadrosaur Corythosaurus has changed the most from old to new Dinosaur gallery. Collected by Levi Sternberg in 1919, the skeleton was originally mounted in a bipedal upright pose, but it has been repositioned to show the scientifically accepted horizontal posture. Chasmosaurus, a relative of Triceratops, has also been reposed in a more dynamic, charging posture. (See ROM Dinosaurs Strike New Poses news release in the Newsroom at www.rom.on.ca).

“Dismantling and remounting the skeletons of the Royal Ontario Museum has been an exciting and rewarding project,” says Peter May, Founder of Research Casting International. “The specimens have been completely cleaned and reconsolidated, old adhesives and preservatives have been removed and new updated materials have been applied to ensure the longevity of the specimens while on public display. New armatures have been made to support the fossils and the skeletons are now in new scientifically accurate postures. Research Casting International is very proud and honoured to have worked on the ROM collections.”

Other highlights of the Temerty Dinosaur Galleries include a full-skeleton cast of a Tyrannosaurus rex, an extremely well preserved Triceratops skull containing a remarkable amount of real, mineralized bone, and the fierce hunter Albertosaurus, which was also recently remounted. There is a selection of horned dinosaurs from Alberta, including the skull of Arrhinoceratops, the best-preserved specimen of its kind and the only complete skull of this rare horned dinosaur, a cousin of Triceratops.

Sections devoted to marine life during the Age of Dinosaurs offer greatly expanded displays including an enormous six-metre (20-foot) dolphin-like ichthyosaur, an acquisition made possible by the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust (see ROM Acquires Outstanding Ichthyosaur release in the Newsroom at www.rom.on.ca). Other marine fossils on display include an ancient crocodile, fish and several invertebrates (including fossil squids), many of which served as food for marine reptiles. Suspended in the atrium above the entrance to the Museum are cast skeletons of the giant sea turtle Archelon ischyodus measuring 15 feet long, and Xiphactinus audax, a 17.5-foot long fish, both of which inhabited a sea that covered parts of present-day North America during the Cretaceous Period, demonstrating that dinosaurs were not the only giants of their time.

One section of the gallery traces continental drift and how land masses developed on earth. Taking visitors from the age of the super-continent Pangea through the Age of Dinosaurs and into the Age of Mammals, this display reveals the Earth’s physical and environmental changes over millions of years. Another ongoing theme, Reefs through Time, presents the bizarre rudist molluscs, a group of clams that behaved like corals, massing together to form reef-like structures during the Mesozoic era (from 250 to 65 million years ago). The Evolution of Birds reveals how birds are, in fact, living dinosaurs, and K-T Extinction discusses events that led to the extinction of dinosaurs and many other life forms at the end of the Cretaceous Period, making way for the dawn of the Age of Mammals.

The Temerty Dinosaur Galleries will contain four thematic video kiosks covering Hadrosaurs, the Jurassic Period, Ceratopsian and Jurassic Marine Reptiles. They will include animation clips and features on various dinosaurs including Corythosaurus, Barosaurus, Centrosaurus and Eurhinosaurus. The ROM’s own curatorial research in palaeontology will also play a role in these audio-visual displays.
Visit the ROM’s new Age of Dinosaurs microsite at www.rom.on.ca/dinos.

Gallery of the Age of Mammals:

The Gallery of the Age of Mammals, located in the south half of the west Crystal, displays specimens from the Cenozoic Era (from 65 million years ago to the present). The Gallery presents more than 400 fossils, including 30 complete skeletons of extinct mammals, and more than 100 non-mammal specimens representing other life forms of the Period, including plants, insects, corals, fish, turtles, as well as smaller mammals.

"Although the space is dominated by the large mounted skeletons, many of the treasures are the smaller fossils to be found in cases, and the stories these tell," says Coordinating Curator of the Gallery of the Age of Mammals, Dr. Kevin Seymour.

The Gallery is divided into sections, beginning with After the Dinosaurs, which focuses on the mammals that survived the events leading to the demise of dinosaurs. Although these species are extinct, several are distant ancestors of present-day mammals, such as the dog-sized Hyracotherium, thought to be one of the earliest horse ancestors. Fossils on display include large grazing herbivores and carnivores, like the sabre-toothed nimravid Dinictis, a cat look-alike. Displays examine how scientists use fossil evidence to interpret what animals ate and how they stood or hunted, and how plant fossils can help decipher past environments. There is also a collection of well-preserved 50-million-year-old fossils from Wyoming, including a large palm frond, and the oldest known complete bat skeletons.

A World Apart explores the biodiversity that evolved in present-day South America during a period of continental isolation that spanned more than 60 million years. Specimens such as a giant ground sloth, a jaguar, and an extinct horse were collected by ROM scientists from Ecuador and the tar pits of Peru between 1958 and 1961. Other specimens include marsupials, sloths, primates, rodents, bats, notoungulates, and the skull of a giant terror bird, Phorusrhacos. Newly-arrived species that migrated from North America when the continents joined include the dire wolf, western horse, and sabre-toothed cat.

The Pleistocene Epoch (the last two million years), the time of the Ice Age, will also be explored. With a focus on specimens from Ontario, skeletal mounts include a mastodon, a giant beaver, and a stag moose. Other specimens include a short-faced bear, one of the last native horses, and Toronto’s namesake Torontoceros, an extinct species of deer. Hefty Ice Age bison, lions, and alligators are compared with their modern, much smaller, relatives. Evidence for glaciation in Ontario is examined through a series of rocks and sediments similar to those found in areas with active glaciers today.

An exhibit on amber, fossilized tree resin which contains natural preservatives, provides a superb window into the past by preserving insects and other delicate creatures that are otherwise rarely found as fossils. Other highlights from the Gallery of the Age of Mammals include the distinctively shaped skulls of the Uintatherium (bizarre horned mammal) and Teleoceras, a rhinoceros; a fascinating bone-bed (a jumble of fossils presented as found in the ground); and the giant burrow of an ancient beaver.

Dino Family Weekend:
The ROM is celebrating the public opening of the James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs and the Gallery of the Age of Mammals with a weekend full of dino-themed events, activities and food for the whole family.

Saturday, December 15, 2007:

10 am - 11 am: Meet the ROM’s new mascot, Gordo the Barosaurus - Samuel Hall Currelly Gallery.

12 pm - 1 pm: Meet RAPTOR, the Toronto Raptors' mascot (Saturday only), and the ROM’s new mascot Gordo the Barosaurus - Samuel Hall Currelly Gallery.

1 pm - 1:30 pm: Author Hugh Brewster and illustrator Alan Barnard sign copies of Breakout Dinosaurs: Canada's Coolest, Scariest Ancient Creatures - Return! - ROM Museum Store.

2 pm - 3 pm: Hugh Brewster and Alan Barnard Book Launch and Presentation - Signy and Cléophée Eaton Theatre. Seating is limited.

3 pm - 3:30 pm: Hugh Brewster and Alan Barnard sign copies of their book - Eaton Theatre lobby.

3:30 pm – 5:20 pm: Screening of A Night at the Museum (2006) - Eaton Theatre. Seating is limited.

Sunday, December 16, 2007:

10 am–11 am: Meet the ROM’s new mascot Gordo the Barosaurus - Samuel Hall Currelly Gallery.

12 pm - 12:30 pm: Author Hugh Brewster signs copies of his latest book Breakout Dinosaurs - Canada's Coolest, Scariest Ancient Creatures - Return! in ROM Museum Store.

12 pm – 1 pm: Meet Gordo the Barosaurus, the ROM's newest mascot.

1 pm - 2 pm: Hugh Brewster and ROM Assistant Curator Janet Waddington presentation about Breakout Dinosaurs in the Signy and Cléophée Eaton Theatre. Seating is limited.

2 pm – 3 pm: Hugh Brewster and Janet Waddington sign copies of Breakout Dinosaurs in the Eaton Theatre lobby.

2 pm - 3 pm: Tallis Choir performs holiday choral favourites - Samuel Hall Currelly Gallery.

3:30 pm – 5:20 pm:Screening of A Night at the Museum (2006) - Eaton Theatre. Seating is limited.

Events are subject to change without notice.

For more information on these events and the galleries, visit: http://www.rom.on.ca/dinos/

ROM for the Holidays: December 27 – January 6 (excl. Jan. 1)

This holiday season offers family-oriented Dinosaur fun at the ROM. Let the Age of Dinosaurs inspire some amazing artistic creations. Become a dinosaur detective, model a dinosaur sculpture, design your very own dinosaur, learn simple origami techniques and fold your own prehistoric creature, add your own creative elements to a Mesozoic mural or uncover dinosaur fossils like a real palaeontologist. Family-oriented activities are offered daily from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, free with Museum admission.

What’s Open in the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal:

Level B2

Garfield Weston Exhibition Hall
(Canada Collects: Treasures from Across the Nation, until January 6, 2008)

Level B1

Food Studio, ROM’s fresh market eatery (in Philosophers’ Walk Building)

Level 1

Hyacinth Gloria Chen Crystal Court
(Charles Pachter’s Canada II, until January 6, 2008)
Spirit House
ROM Museum Store; ROM Reproductions

Level 2

James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs and
Gallery of the Age of Mammals, opening December 15 & 16, 2007

Level 4

Institute for Contemporary Culture, Roloff Beny Gallery
(Shapeshifters, Time Travellers and Storytellers, until February 28, 2008)

Level 5

Crystal Five (C5) Restaurant Lounge

Schedule for Installation of remaining Michael Lee-Chin Crystal Galleries

Level 3

Sir Christopher Ondaatje South Asian Gallery, opening February 16, 2008
Wirth Gallery of the Middle East, opening February 16, 2008
Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, Americas, and Asia-Pacific,
opening April 5, 2008

Level 4

Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles and Costume, opening April 5, 2008