Dinosaur-eating snake fossil comes to life in rare U-M exhibit and lecture

  • Contact Dan Madaj, (734) 763-4190, dmadaj@umich.edu


DATE: 4-5:30 p.m. Feb. 15 (lecture), noon-5 p.m. Feb. 16 (exhibit)

EVENT: The free, public lecture "India before the Himalayas: When Snakes Ate Dinosaurs" and exhibit "The Snake vs. Dinosaur: Caught in the Act" help recreate the moment 67 million years ago in western India when a giant snake ready to pounce on a dinosaur hatchling became frozen in time by an avalanche of wet sandy debris.

U-M paleontologist Jeffrey Wilson and Dhananjay Mohabey, a paleontologist with the Geological Survey of India, will discuss the 1984 discovery of the rare fossil. The lecture will focus on India before the rise of the Himalayas, during a time of intense geologic, geographic and biotic change.

The exhibit features a replica of the fossilized remains and a life-sized sculpture simulating the attack. Interpretive panels explain the remarkable story captured in the fossil and how its full meaning was uncovered over three decades.

Visitors will be able to examine a touchable cast of the fossil slab, showing the snake's skull and vertebrae, as well as dinosaur eggs and baby dinosaur bones as they were found in the field. A scale model of the sculpture will give visitors a chance to explore the scene as they learn how paleontologists used fossils to reconstruct the past.

"This lecture and exhibit will bring the fossil to life and show people how different the dinosaur era was from today," Wilson said. "It is the first time in the world that a replica of this fossil has been displayed."

PLACE: The lecture is at the Rackham Building Amphitheatre, 915 E. Washington St., and exhibit is at the Museum of Natural History, 1109 Geddes Ave., Ann Arbor. Central Campus map: http://campusinfo.umich.edu/article/central-campus-map

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