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Carnivorous dinosaurs, crocodiles and more on view in new show at the Bruce Museum
Fossil skull of the extinct Mahajangasuchus insignias a relative of modern crocodiles. Specimen courtesy Stony Brook University. Photograph by Paul Mutino.

GREENWICH, CONN.- Have you ever seen a theropod dinosaur? How about a pygmy hippo? Or a snub-nosed crocodilian? Well, you are now able to. Madagascar: Ghosts of the Past, a new exhibition in the Bruce Museum’s science gallery, opened April 11, and marks the first official show curated by Dr. Daniel Ksepka, the Museum’s new Curator of Science.

“Madagascar: Ghosts of the Past has a title that only hints at the intriguing experience waiting for visitors to the Bruce Museum’s science gallery in April,” says Dr. Daniel Ksepka. “Isolated for the last 88 million years, Madagascar is populated by thousands of remarkable species that are found nowhere else on Earth.” Visitors to the Bruce’s latest exhibition can explore three major phases of Malagasy history and encounter a variety of living and extinct species, offering a rare window into a little-known world.

“The story begins in Ancient Madagascar, when the island first broke away from the southern continents and started drifting into isolation with a cargo of dinosaurs and bizarre crocodilians,” explains Dr. Ksepka. “Our exhibition includes casts of a carnivorous theropod dinosaur suspected of cannibalism and a snub-nosed plant-eating crocodilian. We then move into the more recent past, when dinosaurs went extinct and Madagascar was re-populated by animals crossing the Mozambique Channel and radiating into the open ecological space. Here visitors encounter giant lemurs, pygmy hippos and the elephant bird, a giant flightless species with an egg holding the volume of 150 chicken eggs!”

The exhibition concludes by touching on the present, following the rapid extinction of many species as humans arrive on Madagascar. Remarkable species like lemurs, tenrecs (hedgehog-like creatures), and grazing tortoises still survive, but are now threatened by deforestation. Conservation threats and priorities are presented as the exhibition points to the future.

Madagascar: Ghosts of the Past opened on April 11 and runs until November 8. And when you go, don’t forget your cell phone: This exhibition, like many others at the Bruce, is accompanied by Guide by Cell, a compelling cell phone audio tour guide program, generously underwritten by Lucy and Nat Day. Easy to follow Guide by Cell instructions is available at the front admissions desk.

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