Dinosaur eggs and babies on display

Tiny Titans is a temporary display of dinosaur eggs, embryos, and hatchlings at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.

Upon entering the exhibit, one sees a case holding the eggs of modern birds.

The eggs of modern birds. Eggs from left to right:  Emu, Aepyornis, Ostrich, Hummingbird. Tiny Titans exhibit at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Eggs from left to right: Emu, Aepyornis, Ostrich, Hummingbird.

The dark-green egg on the left belongs to an emu, while the “small” egg on the right belongs to an ostrich. The tiny egg on the far right is that of a modern hummingbird.

So what is the large egg in the middle? It’s from an Elephant Bird, a 10-foot (3-meter) bird that became extinct around 1650.

Titanosaur nest. Tiny Titans exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural history in Gainesville, Florida.
Titanosaur nest

I was surprised at how small the dinosaur eggs were. The Titanosaur eggs on display were roughly the size of soccer balls; perhaps the size of basketballs when they were fresh and fully inflated. However, the adult Titanosaurs were 23 feet (7 meters) to 85 feet (26 meters) in length.

Gigantoraptor eggs, roughly 18 inches in length. Tiny Titans exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, Florida.
Gigantoraptor eggs

There were also oblong eggs, the greatest of which was 18 inches (roughly half a meter). These belonged to Oviraptors, which had crushing, beaklike jaws and were similar in appearance to modern flightless birds, such as cassowaries and ostriches. Most oviraptors were small to medium-sized, with a maximum length of five feet (roughly 1.5 meters). However, some species were as tall as elephants.

Above: Casting of Baby Louie and a model of an Oviraptor embryo ready to hatch.

Baby Louie, the first dinosaur hatchling discovered, was uncovered by Chinese farmers in the early 90s. For a long time, scientists were unable to identify which species Baby Louie belonged to, but he was eventually identified as a giant Oviraptosaur.

Oviraptor nest. Tiny Titans exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, FL.
Oviraptor nest

Oviraptors laid two eggs at a time, gradually creating a spiraling pattern as they continued to produce additional eggs.

Oviraptor brooding her eggs. Tiny Titans at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, FL.
Oviraptor brooding her eggs

They brooded their eggs, covering them with their bodies, much like modern birds.

Protoceratops followed by hatchlings. Tiny Titans at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, FL.
Protoceratops followed by hatchlings

The skeleton of a Protoceratops  (about the size of a large alligator) was also on display, and was followed by its hatchlings.  One group of Protoceratops hatchlings had been buried together as a group.

Many ancient mammals, birds, and reptiles have been unearthed in Florida, and skeletons of animals that once roamed the state have been assembled and are on display.

While visiting the museum, be sure to visit the Butterfly Rainforest. And take a moment to sit within a life-sized diorama in the presence of a Calusa leader.

Calusa leader. Life-sized diorama. Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, FL.
Life-sized diorama or a Calusa leader.

The Calusa were native to Florida when the Spanish arrived, but were gradually killed and driven from their homes by European settlers and explorers. They disappeared as a group in the 1700s.

Calusa people. Life-sized diorama at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, FL.
Life-sized Calusa diorama at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.

Tiny Titans, the dinosaur-egg exhibit, runs until February 20, 2022. The address of the museum is 3215 Hull Road.

Although you can see the museum’s permanent exhibits for free, there is an charge to visit both Tiny Titans and the Butterfly Rainforest:

Tiny Titans – $8 adults/$5.50 children 3-17
Butterfly Rainforest – $14 adults/$7 children 3-17
Prices are discounted when a combined ticket is purchased: 
$19.50 adults/$11.50 children 3-17

There is a $4 charge for parking. To access the parking lot, pay the attendant at the booth across from the Harn Museum of Art (which is next to the natural-history museum).

There is a café behind the art museum. To reach it, take the outdoor sidewalk behind the Butterfly Rainforest. It is open 10-4 Tuesday through Saturday. There are tables inside and out. Or, brown-bag it, since there are picnic tables between the two museums.

The Florida Museum of Natural History is open Monday-Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM. It has abbreviated hours on Sunday, when it is open from 1 PM to 5 PM. It is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.


REFERENCES

St. Fleur Nicholas, Baby Louie, the Dinosaur Orphan, Finds Its Species at Last. The New York Times, 2017 May 9.
Aepyornis maximus, Prehistoric Fauna.
Rafferty John P, Titanosaur. Britannica.
The Calusa: “The Shell Indians,” University of South Florida, Exploring Florida.’
Calusa, Wikipedia.
Moscato David, We finally know the identity of ‘Baby Louie’, the dinosaur embryo from a giant egg. EarthTouch News Network, Discovering Fossils, 2017 May 09.
Guarino Ben, Baby Louie, an infant dinosaur with a checkered past, finally gets a proper name. The Washington Post, 2017 May 9.

Published by cafsamsel

Carol Fullerton-Samsel is a nearly-native Floridian who lives with her husband of 25 years and three rescue animals. She is a cognitive trainer and English tutor with a passion for day-hiking and nature. Be sure to visit the TenPaths YouTube channel, which is still in its infancy.

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