Saturday, 4 December 2010

Megalania centrepiece of Gondwana Exhibition

A monstrous replica Megalania skeleton helps to form the centrepiece of a collection of flora and fauna specimens from 3.8 billion years ago to the present, which has gone on display this week at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT).

Arts and Museums Minister Gerry McCarthy said the Wildlife of Gondwana exhibition - presented by the Monash University’s Monash Science Centre – showcases the research by some of the world’s leading palaeontologists.

“Fossils, including dinosaurs, will be some of the key attractions at MAGNT during the next few months,” Mr McCarthy said. “Wildlife of Gondwana is a rare opportunity for Territorians to see fossils from Australia, Antarctica and South America, and understand more about the super-continent Gondwana.”

Gondwana once included most of the southern hemisphere landmasses about 500 million years ago before it began to break-up during the mid-Jurassic period about 167 million years ago.

“The exhibition includes more than 130 fossil specimens and full replica skeletons of the Giant Lizard Megalania and the Territory’s very own flightless bird Bullockornis,” Mr McCarthy said. “This giant bird lived about 15 million years ago, standing 250cm tall and weighing up to 250kg.

“Wildlife of Gondwana also reveals the Territory’s rich fossil record with specimens from Central Australia’s premier megafauna fossil site, the Alcoota Scientific Reserve, on display along with a short documentary highlighting the significant research taking place at Alcoota.

“Visitors to MAGNT will also get to see a six metre long Jurassic dinosaur Cryolophosaurus which lived in what is now Antarctica.”

Complementing the exhibition is a cycads display by the Northern Territory Herbarium titled Living Gondwana: Cycads of the NT. Cycads are the ultimate living fossil, having overseen the rise and fall of the dinosaurs and the rise of mammals over 250 million years.

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