Blog

In the news - December

By: Michael Harvey , Category: At The Museum, Date: 22 Dec 2010

A couple of interesting news stories have raised the interest of the exhibitions and web teams over the last few days - Dinosaurs, and Drop Bears.

The Winton Trackway

Alex Ritchie © Australian Museum

Firstly, regular visitors to the museum will be very familiar with the Winton dinosaur trackway display and the spectacular giant ainmation that brings it to life in our Dinosaurs Gallery. The footprints found in the Winton trackway have been interpreted as evidence of a chase and stampede as a large carnivorous dinosaur attacks a group of smaller dinosaurs. A new study, reported in the media last week, has suggested an alternative interpretation with the stampede perhaps being caused by a large herbivore (case of mistaken identity on the part of the little dinosaurs perhaps?). The study is sparking some scientific debate, and it may be some time before a clear agreement is reached on the correct interpretation of the evidence. We'll be keeping an eye on this to see whether we need to reinterpret our own displays - but do come in and check the tracks out for yourself...

On a less serious note, we have also had some coverage in the media, in print and online, after we took the idea of the 'silly season' seriously enough to develop a fact sheet about the Drop Bear, that legendary australian animal. Early in the new year we will be releasing a new iPhone app about Australia's dangerous animals, and we felt it wouldn't be complete without including the mysterious Drop Bear - although information on this animal is notoriusly hard to pin down. However, by piecing together accounts from various sources, our brilliant interpretive officers were able to put together our 'best guesses' about the Drop Bear. Their work was picked up by crikey.com.au and the Sydney Morning Herald (see 'The Bear Facts', about halfway down), and before we knew it, over 10,000 people had viewed our fact sheet in the space of about four days. 

What's great about that is that we were able to pick up a whole new range of visitor comments and accounts of Drop Bears from our online readers - which will be incredibly helpful in untangling the Drop Bear enigma further. Thanks so much for all your input - truly pushing forward the boundaries of human knowledge!

Over Christmas, we have actually taken our Drop Bear investigation a little bit further, with a small display in the Atrium, featuring some artefacts which may, or may not, relate to actual Drop Bears. So if you visit us to check out those footprints, you can also make your own judgements on the Drop Bear evidence. And don't forget to visit Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Koori Art Expressions and the Winny the Dinosaur show while you are here.

Happy Christmas and Merry New Year from everyone in the exhibitions and web teams!