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Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana Opens at ROM

June 24, 2012

This weekend, the Royal Ontario Museum opened the world-premier exhibition Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana. This is the first major exhibition that I have curated.  About four years ago, the ROM leadership asked me to come up with an idea for a blockbuster dinosaur exhibition- and  I didn’t want to show your usual dinosaurs.  In the last few decades, some of the most exciting dinosaur discoveries have been made in the Southern hemisphere- and these have revealed an amazing diversity of strange and giant dinosaurs that are very different for their northern counterparts. This exhibit brings together many of the most significant finds, and it tells the story of dinosaurs from a southern perspective. It seeks to answer the question “ Why are the dinosaurs from the south so different from those in the north?”. The answer lies in the intimate relationship between the evolution of our planet  and the evolution of life. In the middle of dinosaurs reign, geological forces within the Earth tore the supercontinent of Pangaea into northern and southern halves, and the dinosaurs on the newly formed southern supercontinent of Gondwana went in their own unique evolutionary direction, evolving in isolation from the northern dinosaur faunas.

Cretaceous Africa section of the Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana exhibition.

The exhibition features the three best fossil sites in Gondwana- Saharan Africa, Madagascar, and Patagonia, South America to illustrate the great menagerie of  southern dinosaurs.  There are 21 full-sized skeleton casts, and many original fossils. The show includes many  icons-such as the sailed-backed Ouranosaurus, the bull-horned Carnotaurus, and the mega-theropod  Giganotosaurus. The largest of them all is the world’s first mounted skeleton of Futalognkosaurus– a huge titanosaur that is one of the largest dinosaurs currently known. The vast majority of the dinosaurs in the show are brought to Canada for the very first time.

The first mounted skeleton of the enormous titanosaur Futalognkosaurus in the ROM lobby.

In many ways, Ultimate Dinosaurs is a classic dinosaur show, where you are going to see a ton of dinosaur skeletons, and marvel in the diversity and strangeness of dinosaurs,  but we tell their stories using cutting edge technology, like Augmented Reality and Kinect-powered reactive murals. The Mesozoic environments are recreated using 5 life-sized murals by paleo-artist Julius Csotonyi, which were commissioned specially for this exhibition. The skeleton casts were built by Research Casting International.

Dr. Matthew Vavrek was the assistant curator of the exhibition. We extend a huge thanks both to our palaeontological colleagues, for your help with the show, and the outstanding team of ROM designers, educators, techs, and new media specialists who brought the show to life.

For more information and tickets, visit the Ultimate Dinosaurs microsite at:

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 25, 2012 4:44 AM

    I’m just commenting to register my jealousy. I would love to see this exhibition.

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