Indianapolis, IN (PRWEB) March 12, 2014
Leonardo, the mummified dinosaur, does not look like bones of a dinosaur puzzle carefully pieced together. In death, he looks eerily the same as he would have in life – complete with muscles, tendons and skin impressions that are clearly visible. And the secrets he may still reveal are mind-numbing.
The arrival of this mummified dinosaur, kicks off a month-long celebration of all things dinosaur as The Children’s Museum celebrates the 10th birthday of Dinosphere, a one-of-a-kind, immersive juvenile and family dinosaur experience for all ages and Spring Break.
The center piece throughout will be Leonardo. Listed in the Guinness World Book of Records as having the best preserved dinosaur remains ever found, this fossilized duckbill dinosaur (Brachylophosaurus) gives scientists their first real look at the skin, the scales, the foot pads, and even the stomach contents of the behemoths that roamed the planet 77 million years ago. And now children and families will have the opportunity to see for themselves. Leonardo: The Mummified Dinosaur at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis opens March 8, 2014. Made possible by the Scott A. Jones Foundation and supported by the Central Indiana Honda Dealers, this exhibit shares clues about what the dinosaur had for his last meal and how he may have spent the last few hours of his life.
“Leonardo is one of the most extraordinary paleontological discoveries in the world,” said Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, president and CEO, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. “The skin and other soft tissue impressions enable us to truly envision what this rare specimen looked like when he was alive. Clues left behind tell us so much more than how he died. Leonardo is still the only fully encased large dinosaur mummy ever discovered. To be able to expose children and families to this rich and truly extraordinary scientific discovery is awe inspiring.”
Leonardo, the mummified dinosaur, is the only animal that we can definitively say what showed up inside his body came from what the animal ate or drank. In most carcasses, the internal portion of the body liquefied after death and the decay process set in so scientists had difficulty proving what the animal really ate and what might have shown up after death. Researchers concluded duckbills ate plants because of their teeth. But to know for certain, they needed to look inside a well preserved body. “Leonardo has a window into the gut, stomach and intestines. And when I first saw it, it was electrifying,” said Dr. Robert Bakker, renowned paleontologist, Houston Museum of Natural Science. “I could imagine 180 years of my predecessors wanting to look over my shoulder because inside these windows into the gut, you can see the result of this Cuisinart, this high tech chewing apparatus. Inside were chopped and pulverized leaves of conifer trees, tough things to digest proving we have been right. The reason duckbills were so successful and so diverse and so wide spread over the globe was their very efficient approach to processing tough, nutritious plants.”
Those plants tell us more about the world in which he lived millions of years ago and the type of vegetation that existed at that time.
Leonardo is believed to have been about four years old when he took his last breath and collapsed into the water, which helped preserve him. He was “only” 23 feet long and maybe two tons at the time of his death. While he is in Dinosphere, scientists will continue to study the fossil to learn as much as they can about duckbill dinosaurs and the time period in which they lived.
“Leonardo continues to provide clues and solve mysteries concerning dinosaur body structure and function. The diet of meat eaters is straight forward whereas herbivores tend to be more diverse and less understood,” said Dave Trexler, paleontologist.
Leonardo, named after graffiti found carved into a rock near where he died, comes to The Children’s Museum as a 10 year long-term loan from The Great Plains Dinosaur Museum and Field Station in Malta, Montana. “This joint venture allows us to share one of our treasures with a world-class organization while educating thousands of children and families,” said Carolyn Schmoeckel, president, Great Plains Dinosaur Museum in Malta, Montana. “The dedication of The Children's Museum of Indianapolis to creating learning experiences for the whole family is well known around the world. We're extremely honored to have Leonardo in their care and the focus of one of their new exhibits." The Great Plains Dinosaur Museum and Field Station is one of 14 facilities along the Montana Dinosaur Trail. Each facility displays some of Montana’s finest dinosaur specimens. Visit http://www.mtdinotrail.org for more information about the amazing Montana Dinosaur Trail.
Timed tickets are required on certain days, including March 8, 9, 15, and 16 and daily March 20–April 6. Those tickets are free with museum admission and will be available on a first-come, first served basis at the Lower Level ticket booth on the day of your visit.
This rare mummified specimen will join other rare fossils such as the Dracorex hogwartsia and a gorgosaur with a brain tumor in the museum’s Dinosphere exhibit, which celebrates its 10th birthday.
Party Like It’s 70 Million B.C.
To celebrate the newest installation, the 10th year of Dinosphere, and spring break, visitors are invited to Rex’s Arcade from March 15 – April 6. There they can play vintage video games to see who scores the highest. A new interactive dinosaur puppet show opens March 22. And all kinds of dino-surprises take place March 22 – April 6 during daily birthday celebrations created by visitors themselves. Visitors won’t want to miss Dinosaur Extravaganza March 29 – a day filled with special dino activities including the opportunity to watch Paleo Artist Brian Cooley sculpt a life-size T. rex head. It will be the first scientifically accurate, full-sized reconstruction to sport feathers.
Made possible by the Scott A. Jones Foundation and supported by the Central Indiana Honda Dealers, Leonardo: The Mummified Dinosaur shares clues about what the dinosaur had for his last meal and how he may have spent the last few hours of his life.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a nonprofit institution committed to creating extraordinary learning experiences across the arts, sciences, and humanities that have the power to transform the lives of children and families. For more information about The Children's Museum, visit http://www.childrensmuseum.org, follow us on Twitter @TCMIndy, Facebook.com/childrensmuseum and YouTube.