DALLAS (SMU) – “Sea Monsters Unearthed: Life in Angola’s Ancient Seas” was given an additional year at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. It will now be on display until 2021.
The exhibit has been viewed by 6 million visitors since it opened last year, leading to Smithsonian granting a longer stay for the exhibit in the Washington, D.C. museum. It was originally supposed to leave next year. Smithsonian also asked for an additional exhibit window for “Sea Monsters Unearthed,” showcasing the international and interdisciplinary collaboration that went into discovering the fossils.
The exhibit showcases never-before-seen fossils from Angola that was made possible largely due to the work of SMU vertebrate paleontologist Louis Jacobs and his colleagues and undergraduates. SMU Emeritus Professor of Paleontology Louis Jacobs and his SMU colleague Michael Polcyn forged a partnership with collaborators in Angola, Portugal and the Netherlands to explore and excavate Angola’s rich fossil history, while laying the groundwork for returning the fossils to the West African nation. Back in Dallas, Jacobs and Polcyn, director of the University’s Digital Earth Sciences Lab, and research associate Diana Vineyard went to work over a period of 13 years with a small army of SMU students to prepare the fossils excavated by Projecto PaleoAngola. These students – including Myria Perez, a former paleontology student who is now a fossil preparator at the Perot Museum – worked in basement laboratories to painstakingly clean and preserve the fossils.
“Sea Monsters Unearthed” allows visitors to visually dive into the cool waters off the coast of West Africa as they existed millions of years ago when the continents of Africa and South America were drifting apart. It’s a unique opportunity to examine fossils of ancient marine reptiles and learn about the forces that continue to mold life both in out of the ocean.
After 2021, the exhibit will return to Angola. Learn more here.
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About the National Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History is connecting people everywhere with Earth’s unfolding story. The museum is one of the most visited natural history museums in the world with approximately 7 million annual visitors from the U.S. and around the world. Opened in 1910, the museum is dedicated to maintaining and preserving the world’s most extensive collection of natural history specimens and human artifacts. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For more information, visit the museum on its website and on Facebook and Twitter.