“Ben the Plateosaurus” joins the Dinosaur Gallery on its Tenth Anniversary


From 15 December 2017

It’s party time: Dino Family Day this Sunday 17/12/2017; December 2017: the dinosaurs go into town!

With a floor area of 3000 m2, our Dinosaur Gallery, which opened in 2007, is the largest room in Europe entirely devoted to the dinosaurs. It led to our Natural Sciences Museum being classed as one of the “world’s ten best dinosaur museums” by CNN in 2015.

The new exhibition space, inaugurated exactly 10 years ago, has since welcomed over 3.2 million visitors.

These ten years of success have motivated us constantly to increase our offer to our enthusiastic, knowledgeable and demanding public. To mark the anniversary, Ben the Plateosaurus, an exceptional fossil 210 million years old, discovered in Switzerland, will join the iguanodons, T. rex, Triceratops and other dinosaurs in our Gallery.


Ben is exceptional because:

  • Our plateosaurus is an almost complete, authentic fossilised skeleton (at 80% complete?).
  • It can, therefore, be exhibited without a glass case (but not without protection…), in a natural,

attractive pose.

  • At 210 million years old, it is one of the very first large dinosaurs to inhabit the Earth. Before it, dinosaurs were no bigger than 1.5 m. Close to the origin of sauropods such as Diplodocus, it was also one of the first “long-necked” dinosaurs.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank our partners, artists and Museum staff and above all the many crowdfunding donors (over 550!) who have enthusiastically helped to finance Ben’s installation.

Ben the Plateosaurus in figures

  • 1 authentic fossilised skeleton (put together from two individual animals)
  • No glass case for a true face to face experience!
  • Approximately 6.5 m long, making it one of the first large dinosaurs
  • 200 fossilised bones, prepared and assembled in the Museum by the Plateoteam
  • 210 million years old …!

Photo by: Wikipedia

Ben is an authentic skeleton from the village of Frick in Switzerland. It was named after the palaeontologist who discovered it – Ben Pabst. The Plateoteam, a team of palaeontologists and technicians at the Museum of Natural Sciences, worked for 18 months to extract the bones and reconstruct the skeleton. It is now on permanent display at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Brussels, to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Dinosaur Gallery.

Measuring around 6.50 m in length and living some 210 million years ago, it is one of the largest dinosaurs of the Triassic period (its predecessors did not exceed 1.5 m). Above all, it is also one of the first “long-necked” dinosaurs. It belonged to the line of prosauropods, precursors of the sauropods such as Diplodocus. It had a long tail and a relatively long neck. Its size enabled it to feed on a wide variety of plants (though it probably ate anything it came across: insects, small animals, carrion, etc.). As a biped, Plateosaurus could rear up when required and thus reach the leaves on higher branches. It lived in a herd and used its powerful front claws to defend itself.


Where does our fossilised specimen come from?


Our plateosaurus comes from Frick quarry in Switzerland. This specimen has not so far been found anywhere other than in Europe: to date examples have only been found in Germany, Switzerland and France. Frick quarry is an exceptional location for finds of dinosaurs from the end of the Triassic period (around 210 million years ago).

More than 30 Plateosaurus skeletons in various stages of completeness have been unearthed there in the last 40 years. While the majority of initial discoveries were accidental, various systematic excavations have been planned and conducted since 1976. The rich finds made recently have given us a better understanding of the anatomy and way of life of the Plateosaurus. After Bernissart (near Mons in Belgium, site of discovery of the Iguanodons in 1878), Frick is one of the richest locations in Europe in terms of the concentration of articulated dinosaur skeletons. These dinosaurs were probably engulfed in the mud of the huge marshlands that covered the region at the end of the Triassic period.

The Frick Dinosaur Museum offered our Institute the permanent loan of a Plateosaurus specimen. Too many unprepared fossils are accumulating in their storerooms and they cannot prepare them all. Consequently, they prefer to send them abroad: the host institution must prepare the skeleton that is on loan and then display it in its exhibition room.


The Dinosaur Gallery in figures

Photo by: Buendía Tours

  • 39 different species (= types) of dinosaur on display, including real specimens and casts.
  • With the arrival of Ben the Plateosaurus, 46 complete or relatively complete dinosaur specimens (=individuals) are on display
  • These 46 specimens, which may also be very high quality, scientific casts, include 23 complete or relatively complete authentic, fossilised skeletons (such as 5 ceratops skulls, 11 eggs and some 10 original bones of other dinosaurs).

For further information please visit www.naturalsciences.be/fr/museum/exhibitions-view/239/394/390


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