ROM Acquires Outstanding Ichthyosaur

Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust allows the ROM to acquire 20-foot centrepiece for Age of Dinosaurs gallery opening December 15

When the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) unveils its first two galleries of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, the James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs and the Gallery of the Age of Mammals, on the weekend of December 15 and 16, 2007, visitors will be greeted by an enormous six-metre (20-foot) ichthyosaur, Eurhinosaurus longirostris. On view to the public for the first time ever, it will be the highlight of a new exhibit on marine life within the Age of Dinosaurs gallery.

Although they were reptiles, ichthyosaurs superficially resembled dolphins or fish and were completely adapted for life in the sea. They had large eyes to see their prey underwater. As they could not move on land to lay eggs, they bore their young live, in the water.

Eurhinosaurus longirostris means "long-snouted good-nosed lizard." This animal had a greatly extended upper jaw (about twice as long as its lower jaw) and many sharp, slender, sideways pointing teeth, like a modern sawfish. Its body was similar in shape to that of a dolphin. This specimen has been preserved in an unusual orientation, with its body flattened dorso-ventrally (top to bottom) and its ribs splayed out to the sides. From the early Jurassic period (approximately 180 million years ago), this fossil, discovered in Germany, is an important addition to the ROM’s already renowned collection of ichthyosaurs.

The specimen was acquired in 2003 with the generous assistance of the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust, but has remained in its shipping crate until the new gallery is ready to receive it. With the opening of the Age of Dinosaurs gallery on December 15, 2007, this outstanding specimen will be on display for everyone to enjoy, along with other intriguing new acquisitions and “Gordo”, a 24-metre (80-foot) Barosaurus recently discovered in the ROM’s own collections that will be the largest dinosaur on display anywhere in Canada.

About the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust:

Since 2000, the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust has provided nearly seven million dollars to acquire objects which are among the rarest, finest, oldest or, simply, the only one of their kind in the world. In her lifetime, Mrs. Stone gave much of herself to the ROM, serving on its Board of Trustees and donating numerous artifacts to various collections. Most notably, she established a sizeable legacy in her will, ultimately transferring $49.7 million (Cdn) to create the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust -- the largest bequest ever received by a Canadian cultural institution -- upon her death in 1997. The Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust was established for the purpose of building and promoting the ROM’s collections through ongoing acquisitions and publications.

In honour of her extraordinarily generous gift and her lifelong devotion to building and promoting the collections of the ROM, the nine-floor Curatorial Centre, the Museum’s largest building and home to its collections of nearly six million objects and specimens, was named the Louise Hawley Stone Curatorial Centre in June 2006. The building also houses conservation, preparation and research facilities, curatorial and staff offices, and the new Learning Centre featuring an Information Centre/Library, seven Learning Labs, and a newly designed state-of-the-art Digital Gallery.