Sea Monsters Unearthed, Life in Angola's Ancient Seas

November 9, 2018 – 2020

At 88 million years old, Angolasaurus bocagei is the oldest known mosasaur from the South Atlantic Ocean. Mosasaurs are giant marine lizards that went extinct with the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.
Credit: Hillsman S. Jackson, Southern Methodist University

National Museum of Natural History
10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

Ocean Focus Gallery, Sant Ocean Hall Floor Plan

Stunning fossils from Angola reveal an ancient ocean ecosystem where giant reptiles ruled the waves. After the South Atlantic Ocean basin formed 120 million years ago, mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, and sea turtles thrived along Africa’s southwest coast. Now, thanks to the efforts of Projecto PaleoAngola scientists, newly-uncovered fossils of these real-life sea monsters shed light on this period in Earth’s history—and on ocean ecosystems today. Sea Monsters Unearthed invites visitors to explore modern Angola’s fossil-filled cliffs, dive into Cretaceous Angola’s cool coastal waters, and learn about the evolutionary, geological, and environmental forces that shaped life in the ocean then and now. Featuring real fossils and full-scale reconstructions as well as panoramic murals, animations, and interviews with scientists, this exhibition explores how these marine reptiles lived, and immerses visitors in an ancient ocean ecosystem that’s both strange and surprisingly familiar.