Back Issues
Carnegie MuseumsMedia Kit


Lamanna points at two ribs protruding from a hillside during the discovery of a new partial dinosaur or crocodyliform skeleton, February 2001, at Bahariya Oasis, Egypt.

Photo: Mandi Lyon




























Unearthing a giant limb bone of Paralititan stromeri.

Photo: Mandi Lyon





























































Meet: Matt Lamanna
the New Dinosaur Expert at Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Carnegie Museum of Natural History recently welcomed to its team Matthew Lamanna, a newly minted Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania who is already known in paleontology circles as part of the team that discovered a giant dinosaur species in Egypt. Lamanna is assistant curator of vertebrate paleontology and will oversee the museum’s famous dinosaur collection. In addition to his field work, his departmental priority will be to assist with the planning and creation of Dinosaurs in Their World, the signature dinosaur exhibit now being developed by Carnegie Museum of Natural History as part of its first major expansion since Dinosaur Hall was built more than 100 years ago.

As a young paleontologist, Lamanna has been on a fast track in a profession where desirable positions within research museums are hard to find. But his educational and professional choices worked well. Raised in upstate New York, he went to Hobart College and double majored in biology and geoscience, then on to graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied dinosaur paleontology in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science. There he came under the influence of well-known vertebrate paleontologist Peter Dodson, who saw him as a young scientist of great potential.

In 2000, Lamanna was on the team led by fellow Penn graduate student Joshua Smith that searched western Egypt for a lost dinosaur site first discovered by a German paleontologist in 1911. There, at Bahariya Oasis, they discovered a sauropod (a long-necked, plant-eating dinosaur) as long as 80 feet and weighing 40-50 tons. Called Paralititan (“tidal giant”) because it died in an ancient coastal environment, it was one of the largest animals ever to walk the earth. The expedition was funded by the A&E network and resulted in a two-hour documentary, The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt, and a book published by Random House. It also gave Lamanna immediate professional visibility, and it was one of the best examples of a new approach to finding financial backing for scientific field work—entertainment networks such as A&E have begun to sponsor research that could later produce popular material about science.

“Most Egyptians don’t know that their country is a rich source of dinosaur fossils,” Lamanna says. “Antiquities have mostly overshadowed paleontology in Egypt for a long time. A giant carnivorous theropod dinosaur, Spinosaurus, and other fossil animals discovered by German paleontologist Ernst Stromer in the early 20th century, were taken to Munich where they were completely destroyed during Allied attacks on the city in World War II.” Lamanna hopes to help bring paleontology to the forefront in Egypt, and he plans to return to the Bahariya Oasis again to continue his research.

In the summer of 2004, Lamanna’s fieldwork took him to northern China in search of dinosaurs and primitive birds from the Early Cretaceous period (approximately 105 million to 125 million years ago). Also on his agenda is research in Patagonia on new species of sauropods, theropods, and strange fossil relatives of modern crocodiles.

At Carnegie Museums, Lamanna follows in the footsteps of noted dinosaur paleontologists such as Jacob Wortman, who discovered Diplodocus carnegii, Earl Douglass, who discovered the site in northeastern Utah that became Dinosaur National Monument, and John Bell Hatcher, who discovered Triceratops. For many decades the museum has not had a scientist dedicated to discovering dinosaur fossils—with the brief exception of Hans Dieter-Sues, who left after one year for an appointment at the Smithsonian.

Lamanna’s decision to come to the Museum of Natural History immediately gave him access to one of the top three dinosaur collections in the world, and one rich in sauropod fossils. Lamanna thinks that sauropods may have existed in greater variety than we now know. Although originally thought to be animals of the swamps, more recently some sauropods have been seen as land-dwellers. He also feels that “the family-style atmosphere of the section of vertebrate paleontology is a big plus, and helps to foster productivity. Each scientist is working on a different project and coming at it in his or her own way. Even better, nobody has an ego.”

Christopher Beard, head of the museum’s section of vertebrate paleontology, says the museum is thrilled to add Lamanna to its team: “His research promises to advance our understanding of the diversity and evolution of dinosaurs by leading expeditions to exotic locations around the globe, in the same grand tradition that has long distinguished paleontology at Carnegie Museums from its peers.”


Dine with the Dinosaurs Lecture Series
In 1854 in Great Britain, an artist and 20 scientists had a famous dinner inside the hollow body of a dinosaur. Now, 150 years later, Carnegie Museum of Natural History invites you to a sumptuous dinner with its own paleontologists in Dinosaur Hall—a special visit to that famous hall just before it begins its change into the new Dinosaurs in Their World exhibit.

The evening agenda includes cocktails at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m., and a lecture at 8 p.m.

September 22: Dr. Chris Beard, Curator—a 2000 MacArthur Genius Fellow, Beard’s discovery of the earliest primate in China has changed thinking about the geographic origins of mammals.

October 13: Dr. Matthew Lamanna, Assistant Curator—the new dinosaur expert on the staff whose fieldwork includes the discovery of Paralititan, one of the most massive dinosaurs that ever lived.

Fee: Members: $100 per event, $375 for the total series of four lectures that includes two more (November 10 and December 2). Non-members: $125 per event; $475 for the series. To register,
call 412.578.2479.


Ancient Bronzes of the Asian Grasslands
from the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation
October 2 , 2004 - January 2, 2005
© Arthur M. Sackler Foundation

Ancient Bronzes of the Asian Grasslands from the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation presents the first major sampling of art illustrating the personal decorations and equipment of the horse-riding steppe dwellers of the late second and first millennia. The bronze belt buckles, plaques, and weapons of these ancient horsemen are technically sophisticated, richly patterned, and ornate. Animal motifs are a primary theme, including antlered stags, wild boars, and birds of prey. The exhibition shows how these steppe cultures used animal themes as symbols to indicate tribe, social rank, and as connections to the spirit world.

The exhibition brings to life the complex cultures that flourished across the Asian grasslands from northern China and Mongolia into Eastern Europe. It shows how these people influenced and were influenced by the culture of dynastic China, and it illustrates the important role of the steppe dwellers in facilitating trade and travel along the Silk Route across Asia.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History is the first United States museum to show this traveling exhibition, which has been seen in Greece, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Italy, and Poland. The exhibition is organized by the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, New York. Arthur M. Sackler, M.D. (1913–1987), a research psychiatrist, medical publisher, connoisseur, and collector of art, established the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation in 1965 to make his extensive art collections accessible to the public.

Also on display will be an overview of Carnegie Museum of Natural History anthropologist Sandra Olsen’s research in northern Kazakhstan. Since 1993, Olsen has been studying early horse domestication and recreating the lifestyles of the Botai culture horse pastoralists, who lived in the forest-steppe zone of northern Kazakhstan over 5000 years ago, during a period known as the Copper Age.

This part of the exhibition will include photographs, maps, and artifacts. It also will allow visitors to come face-to-face with a facial reconstruction of a Botai horseherder. Other highlights include one of the earliest examples of multiple horse sacrifices in a burial in Central Asia, pottery, jewelry, and other artifacts.


Ancient Bronzes of the Asian Grasslands

October 2: Saturday Lecture Series

Ancient Steppe Bronzes: Who Wore Them and Why
Trudy S. Kawami, Director of Research Arthur M. Sackler Foundation.
Carnegie Lecture Hall, 1 p.m.
The ancient peoples of the Asian steppes in the Iron Age were herders and horse-raisers whose portable, decorative art was based on the teeming animal life around them. Learn about their art from the curator of the exhibition.

October 16: Workshop
Cris Wagner, Section of Anthropology, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. in the Green Classroom; Members: $25, Non-members: $30 (Includes lunch)
Felt is one of the most ancient of crafts on the Eurasian grasslands and it continues to play a very important role in the daily life of the people there today. Learn more about this traditional craft with a visit to the exhibit, and make a decorative felt project in the Kazakh style.

October 19: Food for Thought Lecture Series
Ancient Bronzes of the Asian Grasslands
10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. in the CMA Theater
Members: $30; Non-members: $35 (Includes lunch)
Join Carnegie Museum of Natural History Curator Dr. Sandra Olsen in a discussion of Ancient Bronzes of the Asian Grasslands. Dr. Olsen has conducted research in the Eurasian grasslands, primarily Kazakhstan, for over 12 years. Following lunch in the museum café you will participate in a felting workshop and a docent-guided tour of the exhibit.

Activities continue in November and December. See future announcements and calendars for specific topics, times, and places.

Jendoco named Construction Manager for Dinosaurs in Their World Project
Carnegie Museum of Natural History has selected Jendoco Construction Corporation of Pittsburgh as Construction Manager for its Dinosaurs in Their World expansion project. Bill DeWalt, Director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History Director, noted that, “Their selection is another positive step forward and continues the great momentum this project has. We are also pleased that a local company of the quality of Jendoco will be involved because of the positive economic benefits it will have for the region.”

Since 1957, the Jendoco team has built, renovated, and restored hundreds of buildings in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, including such historic structures as the Rodef Shalom Temple, Calvary Episcopal Church, and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. They have also transformed existing structures for new uses, such as the John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center for the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania.

In February, E. Verner Johnson and Associates of Boston and the Pittsburgh office of Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates were selected as the project’s architects.

Back to Contents


Copyright (c) 2004 CARNEGIE magazine. All rights reserved.