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Sea monsters, anyone?

Sea Monsters at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Betty O'Neill-Roderick

Would you believe when dinosaurs ruled the land, giant marine reptiles,
flesh-eating fish and giant sea turtles ruled an aquatic domain created when a
shallow inland sea covered the midsection of North America? The Cleveland Museum
of Natural History invites you to dive right in to the world of the Late
Cretaceous Period, 70 million years ago, with their new exhibit: Sea Monsters,
Savage Ancient Seas.
The exhibit is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Michael Williams, the Museum?s
Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, who was working on the exhibit at the time
of his untimely death last July. Among Dr. Williams? many professional
achievements perhaps he was most famous for helping to identify the dinosaur
Nanotyrannus as its own genus.

The Sea Monster exhibit brings visitors face to face with some pretty fearsome
marine creatures, like the Archelon, the largest sea turtle to ever have lived
and the Pteranodons, who were some of the largest creatures ever to fly.
Approximately 50 specimens are featured in the exhibit as actual fossils or
replica casts, supplemented by specimens from the Museum?s own fossil

At kiosks interspersed through the exhibit, visitors can see how extensive the
shallow sea was, and compare it to the size of our oceans today. While the close
of the Cretaceous Period was the final curtain for many of these inhabitants of
the ancient seas, several species did survive, including the Komodo dragon,
guitarfish and the chambered nautilus.

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is well known for its fossil collection
from the Devonian Period, many of which were unearthed from Cleveland Shale
during construction of Interstate 71. Visitors can see a selection of these
fossils in the permanent collection in Kirtland Hall and the Save Ancient Seas

The Museum plans a number of special activities to complement this exhibit,
including the Cretaceous Water Park Camp-in, open to anyone aged 7 to 107, that
will take place on Nov. 15 and 16. In addition a variety of classes for all ages
will be offered, call 216-3231-4600, ext. 214 for more information on classes.

On Dec. 5, Dr. Kenneth J. Lacovara, Director of Geology at Drexel University,
will discuss Giants in the Mangrove: The Dinosaurs of Cretaceous Egypt. Dr.
Lacovara spent the past three years in the Egyptian Sahara excavating fossil
deposits. His lecture will be at 7:30 p.m. 

Also be sure to visit the Ralph Perkins II Wildlife Center & Woods Garden
located outdoors at the Museum. Here you will see many wildlife creatures that
live with us here in Northeast Ohio. Say hello to Chuck, the oldest river otter
in captivity; a bald eagle named Saturn, and Randy, a red fox who actually
walked into the museum on a leash after he wandered into a family?s backyard
gathering and decided to join in the fun.

Members of the Wildlife staff and volunteers lead tours of the Center so don?t
miss it ? it?s wild out there! And don?t let the words ?outdoors? scare you, the
area is heated throughout the winter months for the benefit of the animals and
their ?guests.?

In addition to the Shafran Planetarium?s program, The Sky is Falling, visitors
will be able to view the second total lunar eclipse of the year on Saturday,
Nov. 8, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Ralph Mueller Observatory Deck. Call
216-231-1177 for tickets.

The Museum is located at 1 Wade Oval Drive in the University Circle area of
Cleveland. Admission is $7 adults; $5 ages 7-18/college students with
ID/seniors; $4 cildren ages 3-6; free for infants 2 and under. The Museum is
open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday noon-5 p.m.; Wednesday until
10 p.m. Parking is available in the Museum?s own lot. For more information call
216-231-4600 or visit www.cmnh.org