Allosaurus Roar Review: BYU Museum of Paleontology, Provo, UT

For many years, the paleontology program at Brigham Young University revolved almost entirely around one man, “Dinosaur Jim” Jensen, a prolific field researcher with a talent for finding fossils.  In 1976, the University built a museum to house his huge collection (over 120 tons of fossils) which had previously been stored underneath the nearby football stadium, and the resulting BYU Museum of Paleontology displays many of those finds.

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Allosaurus Roar’s Fossil of the Month: Gastonia

Recently National Geographic has published photos from one of the most dramatic dinosaur fossils ever found, an unidentified nodosaur.  What are nodosaurs?  They are a family of dinosaurs closely related to the more well-known ankylosaurs, sharing the same basic body plan that resembles a four-legged armored tank, but lacking the club tail that distinguishes ankylosaurs.  One of the best known nodosaurs is a dinosaur called Gastonia.

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Allosaurus Roar Review: Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia is one of America’s oldest large cities, and it has been the home of many American “firsts,” including serving as the first U.S. capital.  Among Philadelphia’s “firsts” are: the first post office, the first public library, the first zoo, and the first natural history museum.  That history museum, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, was founded in 1812, and in 2011 became officially affiliated with nearby Drexel University. Not only was the Academy the first natural history museum in North America, it was the first in the western hemisphere, and dinosaurs have played a large role in its history.

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Allosaurus Roar Review: KU Natural History Museum, Lawrence, KS

One of the nation’s top university museums, the KU Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas boasts an almost unparalleled collection of Cretaceous period fish, marine reptiles, and pterosaurs.  In fact, several of the fossils on display are among the finest of their kind in the world!

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Allosaurus Roar’s Fossil of the Month: Didelphodon

Mammals lived during the Mesozoic Era when dinosaurs ruled the earth, but they were relatively small, never growing much larger than a modern opossum.  Because many early mammals were small and likely nocturnal, for years Mesozoic mammals have been portrayed as tiny and weak,  often depicted hiding under forest growth from the huge, lumbering monsters who ruled during the daylight hours.  While this was certainly true of many mammals, it was not the case for all of them.  Didelphodon was relatively small, but was certainly not a weakling.

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A New Golden Age of Dinosaur Museums

When the movie Jurassic Park hit theaters in the summer of 1993, there was no question that the dinosaur renaissance–that had been coursing through the field of paleontology since the late 1960’s–had now, for the first time, really taken a firm grip on the public imagination with its depiction of smart and (very) active dinosaurs.  With public interest in dinosaurs at an all-time high, it was only a matter of time before natural history museums would update their displays and capitalize on their dinosaur collections, ushering in what today is a new golden age of dinosaur museums around the world.

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Allosaurus Roar Review: Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, Norman, OK

Like many states in the American west, Oklahoma has been the site of numerous fossil discoveries over the past century.  For many years, the state was known primarily for the discovery of Permian period reptiles and amphibians, but Jurassic and Cretaceous dinosaurs have been found in increasing numbers over the past few decades.  The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History has some terrific displays featuring a number of these discoveries as well as other prehistoric animals from the southwest.

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