Paleopark

The idea of the Paleopark was developed by the Director of the State Darwin Museum Anna Kliukina. Six of the most prominent representatives of ancient times that lived once on the territory of modern Russia were selected for the park. This includes such beautiful dinosaurs as Amurosaurus, Kileskus, Estemmenosuchus, Panderichthys, Mastodonsaurus and a legendary Mammoth. The life-sized models of these animals were created on the base of modern paleontological reconstructions especially for the Darwin Museum. The museum’s green yard was transformed to host the ancient giants. Now there is a new lawn as well as walking paths, streetlights, benches and some plants that grew in the era of dinosaurs, for example ferns, conifers and ginkgo.

The aim of the project is to present ancient inhabitants of the planet to our contemporaries and break the stereotype that there are no significant "paleontological treasures" in our country. “The Darwin Museum tells about history of life on Earth, and we have always wanted to create a park where our visitors would find themselves among ancient inhabitants of our country. We think that everyone is interested to know who lived here thousands and even millions of years ago. – says the Director of the Museum Anna Kliukina. – It took about three years to develop the project and it was fully implemented in 2015".

There is a durable metal frame on which experts have built up "muscles" made of concrete and a plasticizer. The skin or fur colours are reflected by high quality paint which is durable in both summer and winter. Each animal needed an individual approach. For example, specialists used a special “rubber” paint to make a Mastodonsaurus look smooth like all amphibians. Several layers of varnish make it look like this predator has just come out of water. The mammoth’s fur was painted by hand using delicate thin brushes to achieve realistic effect.






Amurosaurus

Amurosaurus

Amurosaurus riabinini (Amurosaurus of Riabinin) inhabited Earth in the latest Cretaceous, 74-65 million years ago. Amurosaurus was a bipedal herbivorous dinosaur and a member of the family Hadrosauridae. Fossil bones of adults are very rare but the available remains show that Amurosaurus was about 12 meters long. The first remains were discovered by Cossacks in 1902 near the Kasatkino settlement (about 400 km away from Blagoveshchensk). The remains of a giant animal were in a thick layer of the right side of a river. Ten years later Russian paleontologists carried out some successful excavations in the area but in the mid-twenties their scientific research was completely stopped. Large-scale excavations resumed only in the mid-eighties and a unique prehistorical herbivorous Amurosaurus was found within the Blagoveshchensk city.   In 1991 Russian paleontologists Yuri Bolotsky and Sergei Kurzanov first described and named this dinosaur as «Amurosaurus riabinini» (Amurosaurus of Riabinin). The generic name is derived from the Amur River and the Greek word sauros ("lizard"). The specific name was given in honor of the late Russian paleontologist Anatoliy Riabinin who described first discoveries of fossil bones of dinosaurs found in that region. 

Kileskus (Kileskus aristotocus)

Kileskus (Kileskus aristotocus)

Kileskus (meaning “lizard” in the Khakas language) is a predatory tyrannosauroid dinosaur. It lived in Middle Jurassic on the territory of modern Krasnoyarsk region about 165 million years ago. It appeared on Earth 100 million years earlier its famous relative Tyrannosaurus Rex. Partial remains of its skeleton were found in the Berezovskiy quarry not far from the Sharypovo city. In 2010 it was described by paleontologists A.O. Averianov, S.A. Krasnolutskiy and S.V. Ivantsov.  

Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius)

Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius)

A mammoth was first scientifically described by the German scientist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach in 1799. These giants lived in Eurasia and North America in the Quaternary period 250-10 thousand years ago, during the great glaciations. In Russia researchers found not only skeletons of mammoths but also mummies frozen in the permafrost. Scientists often find fossil bones of these giant animals in Moscow and Moscow region.   

Mastodonsaurus

Mastodonsaurus

Giant amphibious Mastodonsaurus lived on Earth in the middle Triassic about 230 million years ago. These distant relatives of frogs lived in large ponds with fresh water and were passive predators. They mostly waited for their prey hiding near the bottom and becoming a sort of a live trap. In Russia their fossil remains were discovered in Southern Ural. The species was described in 1955 by paleontologist E.D. Konzhukova. Modern amphibians as a rule are not so large; however there are exceptions, for example the Chinese and Japanese giant salamanders with a length of up to almost 1.5 m. The giant goliath frog can weigh almost 3 kilos. Ancient amphibians could reach enormous proportions, up to 9 meters in length, so our five-meter long Paleopark inhabitant would not be the largest specimen. However large sizes did not much help ancient amphibians to win the competition with the first reptiles.

Panderichthys

Panderichthys

The most ancient inhabitant of our Paleopark is a lobe-finned fish Panderichthys. Its relatives lived in the reservoirs with fresh water in the Devonian period about 370-38 million years ago. What is so special about these creatures? Panderichthys had quite powerful fins which allowed them to cover distance from one pond to another over land. Another peculiarity of this fish is its ability to breathe not only under water but also atmospheric air on land. Using modern methods of computer tomography, scientists studied fins of Panderichthys and discovered small bones similar to the bones of terrestrial vertebrates. Panderichthys was named in honor of the Russian scientist and evolutionist Christian Heinrich von Pander. The species was discovered in 1930 by the German paleontologist Walter Robert Gross and first officially described in 1941. Fossil remains of such fish were found in the Baltics and the Leningrad oblast. The first archaeological discoveries made in the Soviet Latvia in the 1970es were studied by the Russian paleontologists. The head of excavations was the Russian academician E.I. Vorobieva. The scientists concluded that panderichthys wasn’t a transitional form from fish to amphibians, however learning the structure of this unusual fish helped to understand the appearance of particular adaptations to terrestrial life among first tetrapods. 

European Cave Lion (Panthera leo spelaea)

European Cave Lion (Panthera leo spelaea)

A cave lion is a very dangerous predator that lived in Eurasia in the Quaternary period (170-10 thousand years ago) among other amazing animals such as wooly mammoths, cave bears, bisons, and giant deer. Its prey was mostly large ungulates and sometimes caves lion cubs. In Russia skulls and partial remains of cave lions were found at different times. There are images of these animals depicted by ancient artists. A cave lion is a close relative of modern lions.   

Woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis)

Woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis)

The skulls and bones of woolly rhinoceros are one of the most frequent paleontological discoveries in Northern Eurasia, especially in Siberia. For a long time they were ascribed to various mythical animals. The scientific description of this most northern rhinoceros appeared only by the end of the 18th century. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach called it an ancient rhinoceros. This giant herbivorous animal lived near mammoths in the mammoth steppe 300-10 thousand years ago. Prehistoric people knew this animal and were quite good at rhinoceros hunting.   

Estemmenosuchus (Estemmenosuchus uralensis)

Estemmenosuchus (Estemmenosuchus uralensis)

Fossil remains of these ancient animals were found in the Ochersky district, Perm region. The species was described by the Soviet paleontologist P.K. Chudinov in 1960. Estemmenosuchus lived on Earth in the Permian period about 260 million years ago.