From 24 September 2016 until 12 March 2017, Geneva’s natural history museum will echo with roars from the past. Dinosaurs from around the world will be exhibited over 1,000 m2 of floor space. Several world-renowned fossils have been brought together for the first time. Some come from a remarkable collection from Wyoming in the US, unearthed by a team of Swiss paleontologists from the Sauriermuseum d’Aathal near Zurich, Switzerland.
This year the Natural History Museum celebrates 50 years at its current address at route de Malagnou in Geneva, making 2016 a special year when many who visited the museum as children will reflect on the its past. And while 50 years is a long time, it is nothing compared to the time which has passed since dinosaurs treaded on our blue planet.
Perhaps a few wandered through geneva and across the site of the museum!
The dinosaur exposition unfolds in three stages, revealing the latest scientific insights into dinosaurs and how they lived, many many millions of years ago.
The first stage shows how paleontologists unearth the often enormous remains of these long lost inhabitants. You’ll get to see the 27 metre skeleton of the Arapahoe dinosaur which was discovered only two years ago at the Arapahoe Formation in the Denver basin, in Colorado. in the US.
You will also learn how this enormous frame was discovered, removed and pieced back together. The conditions which make the discovery site one of the world’s richest are also explained.
Since starting to analyse dinosaur remains in the 19th century, our understanding of them has shifted from cruel, lumbering, dim beasts destined for distinction, to a much deeper understanding of what they were really like. Most scientists reckon dinosaurs originated more than 200 million years ago, pre-dating early apes, our earliest ancestors, by more than 190 million years.
Scientists have made huge leaps forward in their understanding. Their research allows us to travel back in time to imagine what these animals were like. Scientists now know that even the heaviest dinosaurs walked tens, even hundreds, of kilometres at a time. And some had highly developed brains. In addition, their diversity attests to biological success. And not all dinosaurs are extinct. The fossil record shows that birds are the modern descendants of feathered dinosaurs, that evolved from theropod ancestors during the Jurassic Period.
The shift in understanding over nearly a century and a half can be seen in the third part of the journey. Skeletons pieced together in the 1980s don’t represent the latest scientific understanding of dinosaurs.
Once you have taken in the progress made in the field of understanding these ancient reptiles you will be treated to the cherry on the cake: a gallery filled with huge dinosaur skeletons set to music.
Where to go
1 route de Malagnou, 1208 Geneva, Switzerland
The museum is open every day except Monday from 10am until 5pm. The exhibition runs from 24 September 2016 until 12 March 2017.
Now you are probably thinking this will be ruinously expensive – all of these famous fossils in expensive Geneva. Well you’d be wrong. It’s free. And the exhibition includes field notebooks for the children, one for 4-7s and another for 8-12s. The notebooks are designed to engage and guide children through the exhibition.
So go along and experience the earth’s ancient reptilian past, bones and all. It won’t cost you a bean.