Spectacular new dinosaurs, ancient megafauna and prehistoric marine creatures have taken up residence at the new WA Museum Boola Bardip. Located in the museum’s Wild Life gallery, the Portals to the Past display gives visitors a chance to step back in time and discover some of the most extraordinary animals ever to roam the Earth.
For the first time in Western Australia, one of the State’s very own giant sauropod dinosaurs has been recreated based on footprints trail left in the muddy sand at the Dampier Peninsula about 130 million years ago. At four metres high and 16 metres long, the real sauropod would have weighed about 13 tonnes. Sauropods, long-necked dinosaurs, were the largest of all the dinosaurs, making them the largest land animals that ever lived.
Palaeontologists from the WA Museum and The University of Queensland worked with a specialist palaeoartist in Russia to come up with a highly detailed, digital 3D model of the dinosaur. It was based on several consecutive footprints, with the hind foot imprints measuring about 80 centimetres in length and 60 centimetres in width.
Also on display is the head of a megalodon shark, its size modelled from a giant tooth found at Cape Range National Park near Exmouth. The tooth is roughly 10 million years old and will be displayed alongside the head. Megalodon was the biggest shark to inhabit the Earth’s oceans, growing up to 20 metres in length and weighing up to about 70 tonnes. The species became extinct about 3.5 million years ago.
The predatory, armour-plated, razor-toothed fossil emblem of WA – the Gogo fish – is also on display. Nearby are skilfully crafted interpretations of a three-metre plesiosaur and four-metre ichthyosaur, both of which are extinct marine reptiles rather than dinosaurs.
A much-loved museum favourite is back in an entirely new display. The excavated fossil skeleton of a Diprotodon, a giant wombat-like marsupial, lies alongside a standing full-size cast skeleton.
As stated by Culture and the Arts Minister David Templeman:
“Dinosaurs have always been among the most popular exhibits at the museum and the Portals to the Past display, featuring brand new exhibits and some old museum favourites showcased side-by-side, is absolutely incredible.
“The sauropod model is spectacular. We believe it is the first time in Australia that a life-size sauropod dinosaur model has been created from the information contained in a few footprints left behind 130 million years ago.
“Recent finds and ongoing research into dinosaurs and prehistoric marine reptiles are changing the way we look at these incredible creatures. This new display will encourage visitors of all ages to learn more about these incredible creatures.”