Archaeopteryx to Zygomaturus

02 July, 2010

Dicranurus trilobite model
Model of the trilobite Dicranurus made by MV preparators.
Image: Benjamin Healley
Source: Museum Victoria

The latest exhibition for Melbourne Museum's Science and Life Gallery, 600 million years: Victoria evolves, has opened to eager school holiday visitors. With fossils, living exhibits, models, multimedia and even animatronic dinosaurs to tell the story of Victoria's prehistory, the exhibition brings the long-extinct to life.

Among the highlights are live Queensland lungfish - animals that look much the same as they did 200 million years ago - to illustrate a stage in the progression of life from water to land. Although alive, these slow-moving 'living fossils' aren't quite as active as the animatronic Qantassaurus models that are programmed to react to visitors. The dinosaurs and their animated background show what the landscape at Inverloch looked like 115 million years ago.

Throughout the exhibition, interactive screens track the profound changes on Earth as landmasses formed, broke up, and moved around the surface of the planet. Many of the displays feature Museum Victoria research and collection items that have never been exhibited - including the most complete skull ever found of megafauna marsupial Palorchestes, and the early baleen whale Janjucetus. Genuine fossils sit beside exquisite reconstructions to show how the animals looked when alive. A selection of exhibits also feature in the 600 million years website, while a special free public lecture, 'Big Kills, Big Killers', will be held on 8 July to celebrate the opening of the exhibition.     

600 million years: Victoria evolves is the third phase of the redevelopment of Melbourne Museum’s Science and Life Gallery. The completed redevelopment will present the most comprehensive natural history display in any Australian museum, and will feature more than 3,000 objects from the museum’s collections, many displayed for the first time. The fourth and final phase, Dynamic Earth, will open in October 2010.

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