A PALEONTOLOGIST’S PERSPECTIVE ON THE NEW PEROT MUSEUM OF NATURE AND SCIENCE, DALLAS, TEXAS, U.S.A
Recognizing that paleontology is a gateway to science for most children; that the history of life on Earth is only known through the fossil record; and that collections are at the heart of any museum, paleontology is represented on all levels of the new building. The most popular hall is the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall which is paleoecologically rather than taxonomically focused. Given that most visitors are from within driving distance, the hall focuses on local and regional paleontology but also reflects the work of the active Arctic dinosaur research program at the institution by including, among other specimens, the first mounted skeleton of an Alaskan dinosaur.
While most people know the names of some dinosaurs, recognizing that they were once living, breathing animals is sometimes an abstraction. One innovation of the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall was to incorporate modern taxidermy mounts in the paleontology exhibits. A prominent example is the inclusion of a mountain lion, mule deer and golden eagle in the foreground of dynamically posed skeletons of Alamosaurus and Tyrannosaurus, two dinosaurs found in Big Bend National Park, Texas. The exhibit module is entitled “Predator vs. Prey” and these taxidermy mounts provide a familiar framework for visitors to understand the fossils before them. Our paleontology exhibits continue the tradition of exciting the public about life in the past and inspire curiosity about science in general.