Prehistoric Animals


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New York Museum of Natural History

The New York Museum of Natural History (AMNH) was established in 1869. It is currently the largest private museum in the world. It is home to a huge collection of dinosaurs, offering the world's largest concentration of real bones. It is also a major research center on systematics and evolution of dinosaurs. The AMNH began organizing study missions in 1897, with the first campaigns concentrating on the rich deposits around Como Bluff and Wyoming. A team of eminent paleontologists, consisting of Henry Fairfield Osborn, Barnum Brown, William Matthew, Walter Granger, Jacob Wortman and Albert Thomson, has made important discoveries on the sauropods Diplodocus and Apatosaurus (first called Brontosaurus), and theropods Allosaurus and Ornitholestes. In 1898, these teams discovered the famous Bone Cabin site in Wyoming, where more than 50 partial dinosaur skeletons were exhumed, including remains of Camarasaurus, Camptosaurus, Dryosaurus and Stegosaurus. Paleontologists also found new species in the fossils already extracted at Como Bluff. In 1902, Barnum Brown, an eccentric character who often wore fur coats on the spot, led an expedition to the Hell Creek area where he discovered the first specimen of T-Rex. Later, in 1908, he found on the same site an almost complete Tyrannosaurus, whose skeleton has been on display at the Museum for more than 50 years.

Between 1910 and 1915, Brown traveled through the Red Deer River area of ​​Alberta, Canada, with a barge designed specifically to survey the river and reach the most inaccessible places. He brought back from these expeditions complete skeletons of hadrosaurs, Corythosaurus and Saurolophus. In the 1930s, he returned to the Jurassic deposits in Wyoming and found many other specimens of dinosaurs, again on behalf of the Natural History Museum. Between 1922 and 1925, teams from the New York Natural History Museum went much further, exploring the Mongolian Gobi Desert under the direction of scholar Roy Chapman Andrews, with the participation of Walter Granger and Henry Osborn. Originally, these famous expeditions were intended to discover fossils of the first human beings; they mostly brought back a fine collection of Upper Cretaceous dinosaurs, including the first discovery of a complete nest of dinosaur eggs, that of a Protoceratops. The Flamings Cliffs area proved to be very productive. The AMNH field teams collected specimens of Velociraptor, Protoceratops, Oviraptor, Pinacosaurus and Sauronithoides. During the 1990s, teams from the Natural History Museum returned regularly to the Gobi Desert sites, where they worked with paleontologists from the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. Recent expeditions have resulted in numerous discoveries of dinosaurs, birds and mammals, including Oviraptor theropod hatching specimens. Exceptionally, some of these eggs have revealed skeletons of well-preserved dinosaur embryos. New rooms dedicated to saurischians and ornithischians, opened in the mid-1990s, offer over 100 specimens of dinosaurs, about 85% of which are made of authentic elements (among which, the famous skeletons of Tyrannosaurus, Apatosaurus, Triceratops and Euoplocephalus) . The AMNH's collections form the basis of its highly productive research programs and include thousands of major dinosaur fossils, many of which, gathered over the years, are still waiting to be prepared and classified. In recent years, the AMNH has produced a series of very detailed guides on all important specimens on display, as well as several illustrated books on the history and development of its major collections.

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