NPDC's Puke Ariki explores life before the dinosaurs

09 March 2018

Life-sized and animated models of pre-historic Permian monsters form the centrepiece attraction of the latest exhibition to hit NPDC’s Puke Ariki.

Visitors to the Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs exhibition will have the opportunity to roam around, and interact with, the creatures from the days before dinosaurs ruled the Earth.

The Permian era featured some weird and wonderful creatures who are brought back to life by animatronics in the exhibition, being hosted in the Temporary Exhibitions Gallery.

The Permian era is famous for a mass extinction event 252 million years ago when climate change caused by huge volcanic eruptions wiped out more than 90 per cent of life on our planet.

“Permian Monsters is perfect for all the family to enjoy,” says Puke Ariki Manager Kelvin Day.

Visitors will see five life-size animatronics and one life-sized model of the creatures which dominated land and sea from 298 to 252 million years ago and also get to explore and identify fossils in interactive ‘dig pits’.

There is also a Permian soundscape when the animatronics are activated by people walking past them.

The Permian period was dominated by synapsids (thought to be ancestors of mammals) and sauropsids (ancestors of dinosaurs and birds) and the ‘great dying’ killed about 95 per cent of marine animals, 70 per cent of land animals and virtually all trees.

“It’s a fascinating period which sometimes gets overlooked because of the dinosaur era but is well worth finding more about,” says Mr Day.

  • Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs runs from 10 March to 9 September.
  • The exhibition is toured by Gondwana Studios.

Permian fast facts:

  • The Permian era was from 298 to 252 million years ago.
  • It started with an ice age and finished with a massive extinction event, believed to have been caused by volcanic activity causing climate change.
  • All the continents came together during this time to form the mega-continent Pangaea.
  • Some 95 per cent of marine life was wiped out at the end of the period including trilobites which had been around for 270 million years.
  • Permian Monsters is curated by Gondwana Studios which has taken the exhibition to two other museums in New Zealand.

Puke Ariki fast facts:

  • Puke Ariki is owned and managed by NPDC. It is the world’s first purpose-built, fully integrated museum, library and visitor information centre.
  • It opened on 15 June 2003.
  • More than 800,000 people visited Puke Ariki in the 2016/17 year,
  • Puke Ariki has three long-term galleries (Takapou Whāriki, Taranaki Naturally and the Gallery of Taranaki Life) and components of these get changed out regularly.
  • The temporary exhibition space shows touring exhibitions that are either curated in-house or brought in from other museums.
Permian Monster Exhibition Photo