ROM Governors

The Dawn of Life Gallery

This landmark gallery will examine our deep past—from tiny, single-celled beginnings billions of years ago, through the first steps on land, to the appearance of dinosaurs and mammals over 200 million years ago. It will showcase spectacular fossils and groundbreaking research discoveries using innovative new technology.

Predicting our future
Through its long journey, life evolved, diversified and faced major crises. What happened in the past literally changed the face of the Earth. By documenting our past, the gallery will shed light on climate change and our current biodiversity crisis.

A Canadian story
This exciting new gallery will offer a uniquely Canadian perspective, showcasing fossils from coast to coast to coast, from several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and even from within Toronto’s city limits.

Trailblazing technology
Amazing animations will bring long-extinct plants and animals back to life. Digital technology and photorealistic computer-generated imagery will fully immerse you in the ancient seas and allow you to witness life’s first forays onto the land and into the air.

Be a part of this revolutionary (and evolutionary) new gallery project. Your support will help further our understanding of our own world and the current changes we are facing. With your help, the ROM can build a groundbreaking new gallery with uniquely Canadian content and leading-edge technology. To learn more about the future Dawn of Life Gallery, please contact Susan Horvath, President & CEO, ROM Governors at 416.586.8055 or

World-renowned collections and research
Encounter the biggest and most comprehensive display of fossils from British Columbia’s Burgess Shale—“the most precious and important of all fossil localities.”* Experience an unparalleled view of some of the first animals that inhabited the oceans of our planet, half a billion years ago, and discover how ROM scientists collect, study, interpret fossils, and make groundbreaking discoveries.

• In 2012, the ROM’s Jean-Bernard Caron made global headlines when he co-authored an article in Biological Reviews, confirming that Pikaia gracilens—a primitive fish-like animal from the Burgess Shale—is our earliest known ancestor.

• In 2014, Jean-Bernard and colleagues published a groundbreaking article in Nature on the discovery of a new fossil bed in the heart of the Rockies, where they unearthed more than 50 new species in just two weeks.

• Jean-Bernard again published in Nature in 2014, detailing how a fish-like vertebrate called Metaspriggina offers an understanding of how our jaws evolved.

• Last year, the ROM’s Dave Rudkin and Carole Burrow of Queensland Museum, Australia, published a paper in the journal PLOS ONE about a 425-million-year-old spiny shark fossil, the oldest known near-complete fossil of an early jawed fish.