The American Museum of Natural History is located in Manhattan in New York, New York in the U.S. The dinosaur area is actually split into three parts:
- The Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs
- The Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs
- Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Orientation Center
In the Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs, you can explore two branches of evolution within the group: there is genasauria, which is technically the group with inset tooth rows that form cheeks (and includes stegosaurus, ankylosaurus, and ceropoda), and cerapoda. Cerapoda has it’s whole own area, and is a combination of ceratopsia and ornithopoda, resulting in the unfortunate literal translation of “horned feet,” but includes Triceratops, Parasaurolophus, and Pachycephalosaurus, identified by an uneven covering of tooth enamel.
Those two halls feature about 100 specimens and a staggering 85% are real fossils and not casts. There is also a Corythosaurus (the duck billed dinosaur with the crest on its head) that is in amazing condition mounted on a wall, and includes preserved skin impressions and calcified tendons.
Additionally, there is what they call a “dinosaur mummy” which is a fossilized imprint of the carcass of a duck-billed dinosaur and “one of the most complete pieces of Mesozoic dinosaur remains ever found,” as well as a Psittacosaurus, which is a small dinosaur with small horn like protrusions from its cheeks.
As is typically the case, the Saurischian’s steal the show in the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs. The centerpiece is the imposing T-rex. In 1915 when they unveiled it as the first complete T-rex on display, they posed it standing upright and it stood in this upright pose for 77 years, until 1992 when it was re-arranged into a more accurate stance, and they even raised one foot to put in a “stalking position.” They also have the holotype of T-rex (a partial skull and skeleton).
In the same room is a great Apatosaurus specimen, which was the first sauropod dinosaur ever mounted way back in 1905. This specimen infamously had the wrong skull on it for many years, but now that an Apatosaurus skull has been found, the specimen has a more accurate replica for a head.
Beneath the Apatosaurus is the Glen Rose Trackway, a 107 million-year-old set of fossilized dinosaur footprints. They were recovered from Texas in 1938 and include smaller prints from a theropod and larger ones from a sauropod. The tracks are truly awe insprining since they show just how enormous and deep the tracks they left could be, and the way the tracks are set below a mounted sauropod makes it all the more interesting.
There is also an Allosaurus, a Coelophysis, several theropod skulls, a nesting oviraptorid female, and a Deinonychus in an awesome leaping pose.
The last area, the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Orientation Center, has a sauropod model, some more displays, and a video narrated by Meryl Streep explaining vertabrate evolution
Throughout the halls there are also displays re-creating dig sites, lots of interactive electronic displays, bones that you can touch, and some really neat visualizations of dinosaur phylogeny. Interestingly the museum features the the world’s tallest freestanding dinosaur mount, but it is nowhere near the other dinosaurs. It’s located in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda (basically an epic lobby) and features a Barosaurus rearing up to defend its young against an Allosaurus.
AMNH recently created an official app called “DINOSAURS: American Museum of Natural History Collections,” which contains more than 800 hundred photos and renderings from the museums archive combined into a T-rex skull. Each photo has additional information on where the fossil was found and who discovered it. In a promotional video for the app they actually say, “discover fun facts and stories about the museums popular dinosaur fossils.”
One of the fossils in the mosaic is a pair of dinosaur skeletons called “the Fighting Dinosaurs” and it shows a Velociraptor and Protoceratops locked together. Even though the fossil isn’t particularly large it is amazing to think that they have been in that position for almost 100 million years.
And I should also mention a few key non-dinosaur areas: there is a hall of meteorites, hall of minerals, and hall of gems that includes the “Star of India” (a 563 carat blue star sapphire) and more than 100,000 other minerals and gems. There is also a hall of mammals, anthropology exhibits, a planetarium, a fascinating “hall of biodiverisity,” several other exhibits of mammals, archaeology of extinct non-dinosaurs, and a whole area of birds. Additionally there is the hall of North American forests that includes a slice of a 1,400 year old sequoia with a timeline of world events, and of course the “hall of ocean life,” complete with its 94-foot fiberglass replica of a female blue whale suspended from the ceiling.
All of this makes it probably my favorite museum.