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Dinosaur Exhibit Invades Greenwich's Bruce Museum

From the Bruce Museum collection: a cast skull of Postosuchus, one of the largest carnivorous reptiles during the late Triassic Period, 200 million years ago. Postosuchus grew to about 13 feet long.
From the Bruce Museum collection: a cast skull of Postosuchus, one of the largest carnivorous reptiles during the late Triassic Period, 200 million years ago. Postosuchus grew to about 13 feet long. Photo Credit: contributed

GREENWICH, Conn. -- The Bruce Museum in Greenwich is hosting a new exhibit exploring the region’s ancient past.

“The Last Days of Pangea: In the Footsteps of Dinosaurs” will feature a series of remarkable fossil discoveries, including many from the Connecticut Valley.

The show, which opens Saturday, Nov. 19, and runs through July 16, will trace the history of the state’s early inhabitants.

Over 200 million years ago, early dinosaurs lived alongside bizarre reptiles on the supercontinent Pangea.

The animals included armored crocodile relatives, long-necked reptiles that swam like frogs and a unique lizard-like animal that glided on a membrane supported by outstretched ribs.

The creatures wandered the region, leaving footprints along the muddy lakeshores and skeletons in the sandy flood plains.

Unbeknownst to the animals, however, the age of Pangea would soon come to a violent end: The Earth itself split open along a seam that ran through the center of Connecticut, unleashing a massive flood of lava that triggered extinctions throughout the globe.

The cataclysmic events marked the end of the Triassic Period.

The age that followed, the Jurassic Period, saw dinosaurs rise from humble beginnings as relatively small creatures to launch a 135-million-year reign as rulers of the ecosystem.

The exhibition at the museum explores the geological record of the sundering of Pangea and showcases fossils ranging from the oddballs to ferocious predators.

Visitors will encounter a life-size cast of Postosuchus, a 13-foot-long bipedal relative of modern crocodiles that kept early dinosaurs off the top of the food chain, and Coelophysis, a primitive dinosaur once believed to have eaten its own young.

Fleshed-out life reconstructions of the eight species created for the show, including the gliding Icarosaurus and armored Stegomus, will allow visitors to experience the animals in living color.

Historic footprints collected throughout the Connecticut Valley in the 1800s will also be on view, including those of our Connecticut state fossil, the dinosaur track Eubrontes.

The show is curated by paleontologist and Bruce Museum curator Daniel Ksepka, with assistance from Kate Dzikiewicz, a Paul Griswold Howes fellow.

Events during the exhibit include the following:

• Sunday, Nov. 20, from 1-3 p.m.: "Science Sunday: In the Footsteps of Dinosaurs,” a drop-in program designed for children age 4 and older and their families. Participants will explore simple science concepts and subjects while partaking in fun, kid-friendly experiments, projects and crafts inspired by the museum’s collections and exhibitions. The program is free with admission. No registration is required.

• Thursday, Dec.1, from 1-3 p.m.: “Afternoons at the Bruce: Dinosaur Roar,” a workshop for children in grades K-5, featuring an afternoon of discovery, learning and creating. Participants can explore the museum’s collections and exhibitions. Cost is $15 for members and $25 for nonmembers. Space is limited. Advance registration is required by Tuesday, Nov. 29. To sign up, click here.

• Sunday, Dec. 4, from 1-4 p.m.: “Dinosaur Discovery Day,” featuring dinosaur-inspired crafts. From 1:30-3:30 p.m., attendees will have the chance to meet animals from the Stamford Museum and Nature Center that are descended from exotic Triassic creatures and watch a balloon artist make dinosaur-inspired creations. Storyteller Diane Edgecomb will perform “Digging Dinosaurs” at 2 p.m. All activities are on a first-come, first-served basis. Seating is limited. The event is free with museum admission.

• Tuesday, Dec 6, from 6:30-8 p.m.: “Fire and Ice: Dinosaurs and the Comparative Anatomy of Mass Extinctions,” a science lecture with Paul Olsen, Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. Light refreshments will be served at 6:30 p.m. The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. Cost is free for members, and $15 for nonmembers. Reservations are suggested. Call 203-413-6757 or email Science@brucemuseum.org. The galleries will be open during refreshment time.

• Tuesday, Feb. 7, from 6:30 -8 p.m.: “From Molecules to Mass Extinction: Using Chemical Clues to Unlock the Secrets of the Past,” a science lecture with Jessica Whiteside, associate professor with the National Oceanography Centre Southampton, University of Southampton. Light refreshments and open galleries will be available at 6:30 p.m. The lecture will start at 7 p.m. Cost is free for members, and $15 for nonmembers Reservations are suggested. Call 203-413-6757, or email Science@brucemuseum.org.

• Tuesday, March 14, from 6-8 p.m.: A science lecture and fossil identification session led by Nicholas G. McDonald, author of “Window into the Jurassic World.” Attendees can bring their fossils to be identified by a paleontologist. The fossil identification session, open galleries and light refreshments will be available from 6-7 p.m. The lecture will be from 7-8 p.m. Cost is free for members and $15 for nonmembers. Reservations are suggested. Call 203-413-6757, or email Science@brucemuseum.org.

• Tuesday, March 28, 6-8 p.m.: "Giants of the Animal World,” featuring a live, interactive panel. Meet experts on creatures such as dinosaurs, sharks and birds, and ask questions. Light refreshments and open galleries will be available at 6 p.m. The panel begins 6:30 p.m. Cost is free for members and $15 for nonmembers. Reservations are suggested. Call 203-413-6757, or email Science@brucemuseum.org.

• Tuesday, May 16, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.: A Triassic-Jurassic research symposium, featuring a daylong series of 15-minute scholarly talks by regional researchers from institutions such as the University of Connecticut, Rutgers University and Johns Hopkins University. Cost is free.

For more information on the exhibit, call 203-869-0376, or click here.

The museum is at 1 Museum Drive.

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