8 of the world’s best dinosaur museums

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 3 October 2018

The discovery of a new species of quadrupedal dinosaur in the Free State near Clarens, that lived about 200 million years ago and weighed approximately 12 tonnes, has created a global buzz among paleontologists. Dubbed Ledumahadi Mafube, Sesotho for ‘a giant thunderclap at dawn’, this dinosaur is the largest ever discovered and weighed roughly twice as much as an adult African elephant.

The bones were unearthed a while ago, but remained unstudied until recently. Ledumahadi Mafube crouched like a cat and analysis of the growth rings of the fossilized bones, showed that the dinosaur lived to be almost 14 years old.

Ledumahadi Mafube was discovered by researchers at University of the Witwatersrand. (Illustration by Viktor Radermacher, University of the Witwatersrand)

If you’re intrigued by the prehistoric world, we’ve rounded up a few of the world’s best museums for a spot of dinosaur viewing on your travels:


1. Fukui Dinosaur Museum, (Katsuyama, Japan)


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This museum houses about 40 permanently-mounted, complete dinosaur skeleton specimens, 35 of which are found in the ‘Dinosaur World’ section, as well as various invertebrate fossils, minerals, rocks. There are huge dinosaur dioramas that move and a 20-minute bus tour takes visitors to the largest dinosaur discovery site in Japan, known as Dinosaur Quarry. Many of the dinosaur fossils displayed in the museum were discovered here, including five new species of dinosaurs. According the website ana-cooljapan.com around ‘700,000’ people visit the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum annually.

2. South African Museum (Cape Town, SA)


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Besides many other creatures and the large whale skeletons suspended from the roof as you enter the museum, The South African Museum (part of the Iziko museum group) is home to realistic dioramas of ancient Karoo landscapes with reconstructions of some of the dinosaurs that once lived here. There’s a cast of the most complete Heterodontosaurus skeleton found to date. There’s a skull belonging to Carcharodontosaurus from North Africa, which was bigger than a T rex, as well as the Jobaria sauropod. You’ll also find collections of fossils, insects, stone tools made by people 120 000 years ago and traditional clothes.

3. Natural History Museum (Paris, France)

The Natural History Museum is located in the Jardin des Plantes (botanical gardens) along the river Seine and the dinosaurs are housed on the building’s second floor. Here you’ll find the three-horned Triceratops, the elongated Diplodocus and the Sarcosuchus Imperador – the largest crocodile that existed on Earth.

Currently the Un T-REX à Paris (A T-REX in Paris) exhibition is on. A very rare complete Tyrannosaurus rex specimen, discovered in Montana, USA in 2013 – a female skeleton named Trix – is on display until 4 November 2018.

4. National Dinosaur Museum (Canberra, Australia)


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The National Dinosaur Museum, located in Gold Creek Village near Canberra has Australia’s largest display of prehistoric specimens. Many of the dinosaur skeletons on display stand against beautifully painted mural backdrops depicting the environment in which that particular dinosaur lived. There is also a landscaped Dinosaur Garden with life-like fibreglass models that look like gigantic plastic dinosaur figurines.

5. Zigong Dinosaur Museum (Zigong, China)

The Zigong Dinosaur Museum is located in Dashanpu at Zigong City, in the Chinese province of Sichuan. This museum established in 1987 on excavated grounds, claims to have the biggest collection of dinosaur fossils in the world and attracts up to 7-million visitors a year. Zigong also has life-size replica dinosaurs in the gardens surrounding the museum.


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6. Field Museum (Chicago, USA)


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Chicago’s Field Museum has an Antarctic dinosaur display with some exhibits which were uncovered as recently as 2001. ‘We know it as a land of snow and ice, but Antarctica was once a lush, forested environment—and home to dinosaurs,’ reads a line on its website. The display includes life-sized reconstructions of Cryolophosaurus, two newly discovered sauropod ancestors, and a giant prehistoric amphibian, Antarctosuchus. There’s also a the long-necked, plant-eating titanosaur Patagotitan mayorum, dubbed Máximo (meaning “maximum” or “most” in Spanish)  on display – the biggest dinosaur that scientists have discovered to date.

7. Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology (Alberta, Canada)


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Housing a collection of more than 130,000 fossils, Royal Tyrrell Museum is a centre of palaeontological research and a tourist attraction located in Canada and built on a fossil-bearing beltof strata. One of the many displays includes a pack of four replica Albertosaurus (closley related to the more famous Tyrannosaurus rex) moving across a dry river channel. The most common of the large prehistoric carnivores found in Alberta, the first Albertosaurus was discovered by a young geologist, Joseph B. Tyrrell, who was searching for seams of coal in the Red Deer River valley in 1884.

8. Natural History Museum, London


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Sophie the most complete stegosaurus skeleton ever found, which went on display in 2014, is just one of the dinosaur displays (and one of many other exhibitions) at London’s Natural History Museum. Here you’ll find a roaring replica T rex, see the skull of a Triceratops, an Oviraptor egg, a Daspletosaurus tooth and a Euoplocephalus tail club to name but a few. The Dinosaurs gallery is in the Blue Zone on the Ground Floor next to Hintze Hall. nhm.ac.uk


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