Evolution of Life: Exploring the mysteries of Dinosaur, Japan National Museum of Nature and Science

Today, reptiles and birds are quite different animals. Studying dinosaurs however bridges the gap between the two. There are countless mysteries including the origin of dinosaurs, their increase in size, diversification, and their extinction. How much can we learn from the silent testimonies of fossils?

Evolution of Saurischian Dinosaurs
Saurischians diverged into Sauropodomorpha and Theropoda. The Sauropodomorpha evolved into herbivorous, quadrupedal dinosaurs which included the largest ever terrestrial animals.

Evolution of Ornithischian Dinaosaurs
Ornithischian dinosaurs were all herbivorous and originally bipedal. Some remained bipedal, others became secondarily quadrupedal. Some developed bony armor around the body and the end of the tail. Others sported horns on the face, and spike and plates on the back of the skull.

The last day of the mesozoic
An asteroid collided with Earth some 66 million years ago, creating a vast firestorm enveloping North America that was followed by a drastic worldwide drop in temperature. Related environmental changes brought about a rapid mass extinction of many forms of life across the globe. This included most dinosaur species, but a branch that we call birds survived and continues to evolve today.

The K/Pg boundary layer is heavily enriched in iridium and also contains shocked quartz crystals, physical evidence of the asteroid impact. There is a dramatic increase of fern spores directly above the boundary layer, indicating that ferns quickly resettled terrain devastated by the catastrophe ahead of other plant life. We do not find any articulated non-avian dinosaur specimens above the boundary.

National Museum of Nature and Science, Japan
Established in 1877, the National Museum of Nature and Science boasts one of the richest histories of any museum in Japan. It is Japan’s only nationally administered comprehensive science museum, and is a central institute for research in natural history and history of science and technology.

Each floor of National Museum of Nature and Science is organized around a unifying theme, informed by the Museum’s rich and high-quality collection of original specimens. Each floor’s exhibits work together to convey a message, in turn relating to the overarching message of the permanent exhibits, “Human Beings in Coexistence with Nature.” By presenting these themes in a clear and systematic fashion, the Museum encourages visitors to think about what we can do to protect the environment in which all living things exist and to build a future of harmonious coexistence between people and the natural world.

Organized around the theme of “The Environment of the Japanese Archipelago,” the Japan Gallery offers exhibits on the nature and history of the Japanese archipelago, the process by which the modern population of Japan was formed, and the history of the relationship between the Japanese people and nature.

The theme of the Global Gallery is “The History of Life on Earth” which explores the deep interrelationships among the earth’s diverse living things, the evolution of life as environmental change drives a cycle of speciation and extinction, and the history of human ingenuity.