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Exhibit Overview

This exhibition closed September 3, 2002

Frog illustration

Explore the life of Paleocene Era North Dakota--after the dinosaurs went extinct

What was life on Earth like in the years between the dinosaur extinction and the rise of human beings? Find out June 29-September 3, 2002, as the San Diego Natural History Museum presents After the Dinosaurs: When Crocodiles Ruled, a fascinating traveling exhibition that deals with this 60 million year time span between dinosaurs and humans.

The 5000-square-foot exhibition developed and constructed by the Science Museum of Minnesota, is based on the discovery of 60-million-year-old Wannagan Creek Quarry by Science Museum of Minnesota curator of paleontology, Bruce Erickson. The species uncovered from this site combined with those found at other quarries around the world tell an exciting story of climate, geologic, ecosystem, and evolutionary changes that form the modern world.

After the Dinosaurs: When Crocodiles Ruled looks at the environmental, biological, and geological changes that occurred after the dinosaurs' extinction. The exhibition has three major sections. In the first section, full-scale dioramas bring to life prehistoric plants and animals in a re-created tropical North Dakota. The second section explores how geologists and paleontologists figure out what the world was like millions of years ago. The third section, a recreation of the Wannagan Creek Quarry, details the history of how the Science Museum's research team discovered this view to the past.

Welcome to Tropical North Dakota
In the first section of the exhibition, visitors are bombarded with the sights and sounds of Paleocene Epoch North Dakota, a time when the Upper Midwest was a lush, warm, subtropical swampland. Life-sized dioramas simulate the sensation of time travel in a virtual prehistoric world as visitors walk under arching branches of cypress, magnolia, and oak; hear the sounds of frogs and dragonflies; and see a champsosaur peaking out from beneath the cypress. Interactive exhibit pieces show how small primates lose heat faster than larger ones, how much bite power a crocodile jaw generates, and what noises ancient crocodiles might have made.

World Change Central
The second section invites visitors to do a lot of exploring. It's a broad view of history that has never been seen before. A high tech video theater presentation lets visitors zip through 65 million years of history, giving a quick overview of the mysterious span between when the dinosaurs became extinct and today. Find out how geologists date rocks and fossils by studying the patterns in rocks. Slide bands of rock to match colors, textures, and patterns to their correct time period. A carpeted area uses stuffed animals along points on a timeline to demonstrate what creatures lived in which time periods in history.

Field Camp
In the exhibition's third section, visitors will enter a simulated replica of the Science Museum of Minnesota researchers' Field Camp to relive the 25 years of research that made this exhibit possible. Browse through a field camp tent to examine scrapbooks tracing the dig in North Dakota. Find out how scientists lived while in the field as visitors set up their own paleontological dig to determine how successful they'd be with the tools they choose. A dramatic 3-D landscape of the Wannagan Creek area lets visitors peer through a "viewfinder" to examine the area the way a geologist would see it--complete with labels calling out details that help uncover the clues of history. Build fossils using a super-durable cast (exact scientific replica) of one of the real fossil skeletons found on the Wannagan Creek dig site. A map and anatomical charts guide the reconstruction!

After The Dinosaurs: When Crocodiles Ruled is presented by Koch Petroleum Group with generous support from the National Science Foundation.

After the Dinosaurs | Exhibits