Yale Peabody Museum Unveils Lifelike Pteranodon Family Exhibit

As visitors step back into the Peabody Museum on March 26th, they’ll be greeted by an intriguing sight: life-sized models of Pteranodon sternbergi, perched elegantly in the main lobby. These winged reptiles from the Late Cretaceous period have found a home in the entrance lobby of the newly refurbished Yale Peabody Museum.

A striking feature of the lobby is a life-sized model of a male Pteran

odon skeleton, boasting an impressive wingspan of 20 feet, poised atop the museum’s new information desk. Nearby, a female Pteranodon guards their two offspring, nestled on a ledge beneath a small arched window. This family of four will be there to welcome visitors when the museum reopens its doors on March 26th at 10 a.m., following an extensive four-year renovation. To manage anticipated crowds, guests can pre-book their visits via the Peabody’s website, as the museum will be implementing a reservation system for the first 30 days after reopening.

David Skelly, the Peabody Director and a prominent figure in Yale’s academic landscape, expressed excitement about the lobby’s transformation. “The main entrance lobby now doubles as a Pteranodon rookery,” he noted. “Given Yale’s rich paleontological history and the significance of Pteranodon to our understanding of evolution and biodiversity, it’s fitting to have them welcoming visitors into the museum.”

The revitalized Peabody, now offering free admission to all, serves as a hub for participatory learning, groundbreaking research, and more accessible exhibitions. The renovation has expanded the museum’s galleries by over 50%, introduced new research spaces, modern classrooms equipped with cutting-edge audio-visual technology, and an education center catering to K-12 students from the New Haven area. Of course, the iconic collection of dinosaur and prehistoric mammal fossils remains a centerpiece, including remounted Brontosaurus and Stegosaurus skeletons reflecting the dynamic poses now believed to be accurate representations of these ancient creatures.

The significance of Pteranodon in paleontological history cannot be overstated. Discovered by Yale paleontologist O.C. Marsh in 1871, these fossils were unearthed from the Niobrara Formation of western Kansas, an area once submerged beneath the Western Interior Seaway. These fossils marked the first discovery of pterosaurs outside of Europe, shedding light on the evolution of flying reptiles.

The resin models of Pteranodon, crafted by Triebold Paleontology Incorporated (TPI), are based on meticulous 3-D scans of fossil specimens. Marilyn Fox, the Peabody’s chief preparator for vertebrate paleontology, explained that these fossils tend to preserve flat due to the compression of their hollow bones within chalky limestone and shale.

The display of a male and female Pteranodon showcases a striking example of sexual dimorphism, highlighting the differences between individuals of the same species. Skelly pointed out that besides the obvious size discrepancy, the crest of the female’s skull differs from the male’s, being shorter and rounder.

In addition to the lobby display, visitors can explore further fossils and exhibits, including a fossil skull of a female of a related species, Pteranodon longiceps, housed in the Peabody’s Burke Hall of Dinosaurs.

  1. “Yale Peabody Museum Welcomes Visitors with Life-Sized Pteranodon Family Display”
  2. “Transformed Peabody Museum Unveils Dynamic Pteranodon Exhibit”
  3. “Experience the Late Cretaceous at the Renovated Yale Peabody Museum”
  4. “Discover Paleontological Marvels: Yale Peabody Museum Reopens with Pteranodon Display”
  5. “Step into Prehistoric Times: Pteranodon Family Greets Guests at Newly Renovated Peabody Museum”

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