Permanent Exhibition » Dinosaur Gallery



  • Photo of the head of an oviraptor skeleton
  • Photo of a cryolophosaurus skeleton
  • Crocodile 'Bernissartia fagesii' in the Dinosaur Gallery
  • Scholar group visiting the Dinosaur Gallery
  • Iguanodons of Bernissart in the Dinosaur Gallery

Dinosaur Gallery

With a surface area of over 3000 m2 and dozens of specimens, the Dinosaur Gallery is the largest room in Europe entirely devoted to dinosaurs, their discovery, lives and evolution.

Dinosaurs first appeared nearly 230 million years ago, at the end of the Triassic period. During the Jurassic period, they multiplied and diversified, colonizing every continent. They became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago. But did they really disappear? We’re not so sure!

In the gallery you can see how the Olorotitan died, learn how fossils are formed and challenge a virtual Pachycephalosaurus. Listen to the Parasaurolophus’s scream, find out more about cladistics and give each hadrosaurus its own neck frill.

Visit the Dinosaur Gallery with our App sauria or the podcasts Be My Guide (in French or Dutch).

Remarkable Elements

The Bernissart Iguanodons
  • the glass case (300 m2) protects 8 fossilized skeletons of Iguanodon still standing in the same biped kangaroo position they were put in during the first assembly
  • Telegram sent on 12 April 1878 by the Bernissart coal mine to inform the Belgian Royal Museum of Natural History of the discovery of bones incrusted with pyrite
  • Assembly of the most complete specimens in a chapel with a scaffold and ropes
  • First assembled specimen of 'Iguanodon bernissartensis' in the inner courtyard of the former Nassau Hotel in 1883
  • partial skeletons of Iguanodons exhibited the way they were laying in the mine

Thirty relatively complete iguanodon skeletons were discovered 322m underground in a coal mine in Bernissart, Belgium at the end of the 19th century. Since the bones were still in their original position, it was possible to present the skeletons in ‘lifelike’ poses. They immediately attracted visitors from all over the world!

Today a 300 m2 glass case protects this national treasure and gives visitors an optimal view on every one of these gems. In the basement you can also see the skeletons in the position they were found in the mines and learn how they were discovered.

Did they walk on two or four legs? Did they all belong to the same species? How did they die? Where did they live? Are there more in Bernissart? Find out the answers during your visit and become a real iguanodon expert!

Follow one of our palaeontolongists inside their cage thanks to the following videos:

Ben the Plateosaurus
  • Ben's skull had to be completed with a molding of another specimen. (photo: Thierry Hubin / RBINS)
  • The Ben’s excavation in Frick, Switzerland, in 2007 (photo: Ben Pabst)
  • Arrival of Ben's fossils at the paleontology lab in May 2016. (photo: Thierry Hubin / RBINS)
  • The Plateoteam : those palaeontologists and technicians from the Museum of Natural Sciences worked for 18
  • Aldo makes a custom frame for Ben (photo: RBINS)

Ben the Plateosaurus is a genuine skeleton from Frick, in Switzerland. He was named after Ben Pabst, the palaeontologist who discovered him. The Plateoteam (made up of palaeontologists and technicians from the Museum of Natural Sciences) worked for 18 months to dig out his bones and reconstruct his skeleton. Since December 2017 he is on permanent display in the Dinosaur Gallery.

Plateosaurus lived around 210 million years ago. Measuring 6.4m long, they were some of the biggest dinosaurs from the Triassic period (their predecessors were less than 1.5m long). Most importantly, they were also some of the first “long necked” dinosaurs. They belonged to the prosauropod family, the precursors of sauropods like Diplodocus. They had long tails and necks that were already quite lengthy compared to other dinosaurs. Their enormous size enabled them to eat a large variety of vegetation (but they probably ate just about everything that came their way, including insects and small animals). They were bipeds. They lived in groups and could defend themselves with powerful claws on their back feet.

Watch the Making-of Plateosaurus Ben.

Information Direct from the Experts
  • Belgian palaeontologist Pascal Godefroit
  • the information screen about iguanodons in front of the glass cage

Who is best suited to tell you more about dinosaurs? Undoubtedly the men and women who discovered and studied them! That is why it is worth your while to watch the eight interviews in this room. Phil Currie from Canada talks about dinosaurs on the poles; the American Jack Horner describes the discovery of Maiasaura eggs; David B. Norman from the UK talks about the Iguanodon bernissartensis‘s posture; and Pascal Godefroit from Belgium shows you the last Russian dinosaurs.

Stan the T. Rex
  • T. rex - Close up
  • Stan, the Tyrannosaurus rex in the Dinosaur Gallery
  • Preview of the T. rex paper head (copyright: RBINS)

The specimen shown in our room is a replica of Stan, the largest and most complete male Tyrannosaurus rex known today (12.2m long and 3.7m high). He was discovered in the Hell Creek Formation in South-Dakota (USA).

His skeleton bears the marks of many an injury: broken and healed ribs; cervical vertebrae that are fused or have become rigid owing to excess bone growth; and a hole in the back of his skull is a perfect match for… the tooth of a T. rex! Most of these injuries could have been inflicted by other tyrannosaurs, but Stan survived all of it. When he died, all of his wounds had healed already or were on the mend.

Do not miss the two interviews about the T. rex about its growth, its anatomy and its way of life.

Feathered Dinosaurs
  • ‘Sinosauropteryx prima’ (cast)
  • ‘Caudipteryx zoui’ (sculpture)
  • ‘Archaeopteryx lithographica’ (cast plate)
  • ‘Archaeopteryx lithographica’ (cast)

Not all dinosaurs are extinct! Birds are the descendants of theropods (sometimes they are even considered to be dinosaurs). One piece of evidence is that dinosaurs had more or less evolved feathers. Very well-preserved fossils have been discovered in south-west China since 1996. These fossils are of such quality that they still show traces of plumage.

The Sinosauropteryx’s plumage consisted of simple hollow downy hairs. These kept its body warm, but it couldn't fly. The Caudipteryx didn't fly either. The long symmetrical feathers on its short forelegs and tail were for showing off. The Archaeopteryx, which was discovered in Germany, had wings with asymmetrical feathers and could glide from one branch to another.

Mont-Dieu Meteorite
  • Segment of the Mont-Dieu meteorite
  • Mont-Dieu meteorite

Even though the piece on display weighs 435kg, it is only a fragment of a meteorite. It was discovered shattered in pieces near the forest of Mont-Dieu in the north of France. The meteorite’s total weight is estimated to have been more than 800kg, making it one of the biggest meteorites in Europe.

However, as said in the interview with the Belgian Philippe Claeys, it is a lot smaller than the meteorite that hit the earth near Mexico at the end of the Cretaceous era. It had a diameter of 10 to 12km and is thought to have led to the extinction of the dinosaurs, pterosaurs, mosasaurs, ammonites and many other species.

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