Allosaurus Roar’s Top Dozen Allosaurus Displays

I have always loved the Allosaurus, it is my favorite dinosaur and has been since I was very young.  I’m not sure why…but for some reason I did not immediately take to the T. rex that every other kid seemed to.  I think Allosaurus is a very interesting dinosaur…it lived in the Jurassic Era, roughly 90 million years before the T. rex.  In other words, T. rex lived 25 million years closer to us today then it did to the Allosaurus.  Like T. rex, Allosaurus was an apex predator, but Allosaurus had to find food among some of the largest animals the world had ever seen.  By comparison, T. rex was very large, and probably larger than almost all of its prey.  That doesn’t mean life was easy for the T. rex, of course, but there’s something that I find more intriguing about an Allosaurus, or possibly a group of them hunting together, trying to figure out how to take down a large sauropod like Camarasaurus or Diplodocus, creatures many times their own weight.  So where can I find some great exhibits of this awesome dinosaur?

Fortunately, there are a lot of wonderful Allosaurus exhibits.  Interestingly, the holotype specimen is held at the Yale Peabody Museum and has not been displayed…but that will change when their planned renovations are complete.  The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History would normally make this list, but currently their display is closed for renovation.

Allosaurus Roar’s Top Dozen Allosaurus Displays

(12, Tie) Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

Why not make it a baker’s dozen?  The Allosaurus on display at at the Science Museum of Minnesota is shown hunting two Camptosaurus.  This Allosaurus is pretty ferocious, although standing a little more upright than current science suggests was likely.

Allosaurus Minnesota

Lively Allosaurus, Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN. Photo credit: John Gnida

(12, Tie) San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego, CA

The Allosaurus on display in San Diego is a very nice fossil cast, shown in the most recent understanding of the likely walking stance.  It is a good looking fossil, the first dinosaur you see when you enter the museum.

Allosaurus display. San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego, CA.

Allosaurus display. San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego, CA.  Photo credit: John Gnida

(11) University of Michigan Museum of Natural History, Ann Arbor, MI

As a U-M alum and someone who spent months as an undergraduate student working in the back halls of the building, I have a certain bias for this display.  It is large and impressive, and like many fossilized Allosaurus skeletons this one was discovered in the Cleveland-Lloyd dinosaur quarry in Utah.  At the UMMNH, he is displayed very prominently in the center of the fossil gallery, although this Allosaurus too is standing a little more upright than is likely.

Allosaurus display. University of Michigan Museum of Natural History, Ann Arbor, MI.

Allosaurus display. University of Michigan Museum of Natural History, Ann Arbor, MI. Photo credit: John Gnida

(10) Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

We know that Allosaurus and Stegosaurus lived at the same time in roughly the same area, and their bones today are found in the Morrison formation of the Jurassic.  Research has shown that it is highly likely these two iconic dinosaurs were mortal enemies: Stegosaurus fossils have been found with broken Allosaurus teeth scattered about, which indicates feeding, and Allosaurus bones have been found with injuries that match the tail spikes, or “thagomizer” of a Stegosaurus.  So it is natural to place these two together in a museum display, and the exhibit in Los Angeles does that very beautifully.

Allosaurus vs. Stegosaurus. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA.

Allosaurus vs. Stegosaurus. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA. Photo credit: John Gnida

(9) University of Nebraska State Museum, Lincoln, NE

There are a number of “juvenile” Allosaurus specimens on display in museums across North America, but the smallest one I have ever seen can be found in Morrill Hall, the campus building which houses the University of Nebraska State Museum.  The little fellow pictured below can be found next to an adult Allosaurus skeleton in the museum’s Jurassic fossil gallery.

Juvenile Allosaurus. University of Nebraska State Museum, Lincoln, NE.

Juvenile Allosaurus. University of Nebraska State Museum, Lincoln, NE.  Photo credit: John Gnida

(8) Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland, OH

Allosaurus fossils are often shown attacking a prey dinosaur, in many cases a Stegosaurus.  In Cleveland however, the Allosaurus is shown attacking a much larger sauropod Haplocanthosaurus.  The pose is very dynamic, showing the Allosaurus running alongside the large creature ready to attack.

Allosaurus on the attack. Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland, OH.

Allosaurus on the attack. Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland, OH.  Photo credit: John Gnida

(7) Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston, TX

The Allosaurus in Houston is a cast of “Big Al Two”, the most complete specimen ever found, and quite large.  The original fossil currently resides in Switzerland.  Big Al Two is a large and beautiful fossil, with a menacing skull and pronounced ridges above the eyes.  It is certainly one of the great Allosaurus specimens.

Cast of "Big Al Two." Allosaurus display, Houston Museum of Natural Science. Houston, TX.

Cast of “Big Al Two.” Allosaurus display, Houston Museum of Natural Science. Houston, TX.  Photo credit: John Gnida

(6) Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, PA

The Allosaurus at the Carnegie Museum is very nice, posed in a dynamic exhibit in the museum’s Jurassic gallery.  The Allosaurus is shown stalking an adult and baby Apatosaurus.  One of the great things about the Pittsburgh exhibit is that they emphasize showing dinosaurs “In Their Time”, with era-appropriate flora and fauna throughout the displays.

Allosaurus stalking Apatosaurus. Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, PA.

Allosaurus stalking Apatosaurus. Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, PA.  Photo credit: John Gnida

(5) Denver Museum of Science and Nature, Denver, CO

The Allosaurus in Denver is a real beauty, and the pose is great.  The Allosaurus vs. Stegosaurus poses are very similar in Denver and Los Angeles, but in Denver the Stegosaurus is posed in a more defensive posture, protecting a baby Stegosaurus.  It is a real highlight in the museum’s Prehistoric Journey exhibit hall.  Many fossils from the Jurassic era have been found in the nearby hills in and near Morrison, CO, and the Denver museum has some great specimens.

Allosaurus vs. Stegosaurus. Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver, CO.

Allosaurus vs. Stegosaurus. Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver, CO.  Photo credit: John Gnida

(4) University of Wyoming Geological Museum, Laramie, WY

“Big Al” is the sub-adult fossil Allosaurus that is held at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT, but whose cast is on display at the University of Wyoming Geological Museum in Laramie.  “Big Al” is a very important fossil…he is one of the most complete Allosaurus ever found, and one of the most interesting.  This dinosaur led a rough life, suffering numerous injuries, most of which had healed to one degree or another at the time of his death.  On the skeleton you can see some abnormalities, and the museum does a nice job pointing these out for visitors.  “Big Al” was the star of the 2000 BBC Video Allosaurus: A Walking With Dinosaurs Special.

University of Wyoming Geological Museum

"Big Al" the Allosaurus. University of Wyoming Geological Museum, Laramie, WY.

“Big Al” the Allosaurus. University of Wyoming Geological Museum, Laramie, WY.  Photo credit: John Gnida

(3) American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY

There are two fantastic Allosaurus fossils on display at the AMNH in New York.  The first is right in the lobby, a great exhibit of an Allosaurus attacking a rearing Barosaurus.  It’s a beautiful display, worthy of it’s prime location in this wonderful museum.  There is another great fossil Allosaurus at AMNH and it can be found on the fourth floor.  One of the first dinosaurs ever mounted for display, this Allosaurus is posed feeding on the carcass of a large sauropod.  This mount inspired one of the famous murals by renowned paleoartist Charles R. Knight.

Allosaurus vs. Barosaurus. American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY.

Allosaurus vs. Barosaurus. American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY.  Photo credit: John Gnida

(2) Natural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

The Natural History Museum of Utah is a wonderful place to see Allosaurus.  It is the state fossil of Utah, and the museum does a great job highlighting this majestic dinosaur.  There are several fossils in the exhibit, both adults and juveniles.  In a very dynamic display, they are shown working together to try to bring down a large sauropod dinosaur.  The museum has a very nice section that highlights central Utah’s Cleveland-Lloyd dinosaur quarry where many Allosaurus specimens have been discovered.

Juvenile Allosaurus. Natural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.

Juvenile Allosaurus. Natural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.  Photo credit: John Gnida

(1) Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, Cleveland, UT

Allosaurus fossils have been discovered in many places in the American west, but nowhere more than at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry near Cleveland, Utah.  The Bureau of Land Management in Utah manages the site, and there is a small building that displays a great Allosaurus skeleton and provides a lot of information about the interesting discoveries that have been made there.  Many, if not most, of the Allosaurus fossils on display in museums around the world have come from this quarry–over 45 and as many as 60 or so different allosaurs have been identified.  The display is very nice, but the real reason you drive the twelve miles or so off the paved road to see Cleveland-Lloyd is in the quarry itself.  Under one of the covered buildings you can observe a number of fossils from several different dinosaurs that are still in the ground.  If you love Allosaurus, this is the place you want to go!

Allosaurus display. Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, near Cleveland, UT.

Allosaurus display. Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, near Cleveland, UT. Photo credit: Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry.