Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs details life on Earth 290 million years ago, with life-sized animated models and fossils of the extraordinary creatures who ruled the land and sea.
The exhibition was created by Gondwana Studios in Australia, and has been touring Australian and United States cities since 2013.
While on display at Tasmania’s Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, the exhibition attracted more than 56,000 visitors, making it the venue’s most popular touring show in the last 10 years.
Visitors to Waikato Museum are the first in New Zealand to have the chance to experience what life was like before the age of dinosaurs, in a time known as the Permian.
Guests can meet the top predator of the time, the giant saber-toothed gorgonopsid Inostrancevia, as well as giant insects, bizarre-looking sharks and strange reptile-like creatures with mammal characteristics.
The Permian period ended with the largest extinction Earth is believed to have experienced, which wiped out 90 per cent of all species on the planet. The exhibition sheds light on the cause of this catastrophe which turned Earth into a biological desert.
Waikato Museum Director Cherie Meecham is proud to be unleashing these fascinating yet little-known monsters ahead of other New Zealand venues.
“The combination of moving models, fossils, imagery, interactive dig pits and easy-to-digest information provides visitors with a captivating window into this pivotal era of natural history,” she says.
The exhibition runs until 13 August. Admission costs: $12 adult, $8 child, $10 concession, $20 small family (one adult and two children), $40 large family (two adults and up to four children), children 0-3 years old free.
Waikato Museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm.