Dinosaurs from the Southern Supercontinent Exhibition Opens
Gondwana, or as it is sometimes called Gondwanaland, was a supercontinent formed in the southern hemisphere by the joining together of several large land bearing crustal plates. The land masses of South America, Australia, Antarctica, India and Africa, as well as several other significant land masses were joined together for much of the Palaeozoic. They only began to break up to start the formation of the continents we are so familiar with today towards the end of the Mesozoic.
The plates that make up the Earth’s crust are in constant motion, the effects of the break up of Gondwana are still being seen today with the Indian plate pushing into the Asian plate, the impact of this collision resulted in the formation of the Himalayas.
The southern land masses had their own unique and diverse fauna and flora and although during the Mesozoic parts of the southern continents were joined to other land masses, those forming the periphery of Laurasia for example, dinosaurs in the southern areas of the planet evolved into different forms when compared to their northern counterparts. For meat-eating dinosaurs in the Northern Hemisphere, the Allosauridae were gradually replaced by tyrannosaurs, but in the more isolated south, certain types of dinosaur such as the allosaurs persisted for much longer.
A three-month long exhibition showing some of the amazing dinosaur fossils found in countries such as Argentina, that once formed part of Gondwana will open this week (March, 2009) in Tokyo. The exhibition entitled “Dinosaurs of Gondwana” showcases some of the amazing Theropod discoveries that have been made recently. The exhibit is being held by the National Science Museum, in Japan’s capital and with all the interest in dinosaurs from the Japanese it will certainly attract large crowds.
A star exhibit are the reconstructed skeletons of a family group of Mapusaurus (Mapusaurus roseae). Two adults and a juvenile are depicted together, giving the impression of a family group. This reconstruction is based on interpreting evidence from the fossil bone bed from which Mapusaurus fossils were extracted.
The reconstruction of this meat-eating dinosaur family group is based on the fact that the Mapusaurus fossils were found together, in a fossil bone bed that contained at least seven individuals of varying ages and sizes. The scientists who named and described this dinosaur (Rodolfo and Currie, 1996), speculated that the accumulation of bones in this one location could be coincidental, but it could also be evidence that all these animals lived together and subsequently died together. This could be evidence of pack behaviour amongst carcharodontosaurids.
These animals were certainly formidable predators. Related to Giganotosaurus, these particular meat-eaters may have reached lengths in excess of 13 metres and if they did hunt in packs they would have been capable of bringing down even the largest titanosaurs.
The exhibition runs from the 14th March until June 21st and features a number of theropods from Gondwanaland, including the 8 metre long Megaraptor (Megaraptor namunhuaiqui) and the bizarre looking Cryolophosaurus, (C. elliotti) an Early Jurassic meat-eater; fossils of which have been found in Antarctica.
To view a model of Cryolophosaurus, Giganotosaurus, Mapusaurus and other dinosaurs: Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models.