Tyrannosaurs surprise and delight in Te Papa’s newest exhibition

23 September 2014

Cutting edge technology has been combined with the latest research forTyrannosaurs - Meet the Family; opening Saturday 27 September 2014 at Te Papa. An immersive multimedia experience for visitors of all ages, it showcases the latest revisions of the tyrannosaur’s family tree.

The exhibition comes from the Australian Museum, and includes an extraordinary array of rare fossils and carefully constructed casts that illustrate 100 million years of the tyrannosaur’s emergence into one of the world’s most fearsome predators. Some of the fossils have never been displayed in New Zealand before

The Te Papa curator and palaeontologist, Alan Tennyson, says this exhibition was the first to bring these fascinating objects together in one place, to convey the variety and might of these amazing creatures. He says some visitors may also be surprised at the link between tyrannosaurs and present-day birds.

“The first objects visitors encounter are a modelof the recently discoveredGuanlong and a cast of a Dilong skeleton. Both are examples of the earliest and smallest tyrannosaurs ever known. They were feathered with relatively long arms showing that the swift, formidable T.rex was not the only member of this dinosaur dynasty. It was the last in a long lineage that appeared 165 million years ago,” he says.

The T.rex’s massive skull, powerful jaw and bone-crunching teeth are showcased by one of the exhibition’s highlights; a huge 12 metre-long T.rex skeleton. This life-size model of a complete skeleton from Canada will astound both adults and children with its size. Those brave enough to get up close may even find a surprise awaits them.

Dinosaur enthusiasts and novices alike will be able to lose themselves in the exhibition’s multi-media features; compare your strength to the bite force of a T.rex, put yourself on a large screen where you can interact with tyrannosaurs using augmented reality, and explore what it would be like if they had lived to wander Wellington today.

Te Papa’s Acting Chief Executive and Kaihautū, Arapata Hakawai, saysTyrannosaurs – Meet the Family will surprise and delight a vast range of visitors. “Te Papa is a place where everyone can learn and find inspiration, and this is a clear example of the museum’s hallmark approach; providing scholarly and innovative displays whatever the topic or field of study. Here, scientific research has been conveyed in a way that is accessible for people all ages and which will continue to inspire long after they have left the exhibition space. It is also fitting that, at the national museum, Tyrannosaurs – Meet the Family will include the addition of unique New Zealand content.”

Alan Tennyson says while evidence of tyrannosaurs has not been unearthed in this country, a range of other dinosaur remains have. “Visitors will be able to explore the most complete collection of New Zealand fossil dinosaur material ever on display. The fossils and casts illustrate 15 dinosaur fragments found in this country, most by the amateur geologist Joan Wiffen. Her story may even help to motivate some of our visitors to make their own discoveries. There are definitely more fossils out there to find.”

A public events programme designed to complement the exhibition includes talks from some of the world’s foremost researchers of tyrannosaurs, along with more dinosaur fun for the children such as a free, self-guided dinosaur trail.

Te Papa brings you Tyrannosaurs – Meet the Family with the support of its Principal Partner Mitre 10 MEGA Petone, Upper Hutt, and Porirua.

Tyrannosaurs – Meet the Family
Visa Platinum Gallery, Level 4
27 September 2014 – 8 February 2015.
Adults $14, Children 3-15 years $6, Children under 2 free. Family, student and concession tickets also available.