Although Oklahoma is 100 years old, its history extends long before its inception. And starting Saturday, the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in Norman is bringing it all to the present.
The first 4.5 billion years of the Sooner State's life is being permanently transported into the 21st century, while an ancient 40-foot-long crocodile and its dinosaur prey will call Oklahoma home for the next few months.
The Paleozoic Gallery, a 4,600-square-foot addition to the Hall of Ancient Life, completes the 8-year-old hall, said Linda Coldwell, public relations specialist for the museum.
The gallery tells the story of life in Oklahoma from Earth's formation to 251 million years ago, when a mass extinction of life occurred, she said. Hundreds of fossils will accompany dioramas and text in the gallery.
"Whenever we can, we are using Oklahoma specimens," Coldwell said. "This is really a history of Oklahoma."
A Missouri-based company called Chase Studio created the dioramas. The firm has worked for hundreds of museums across the world, said Terry Chase, the studio's owner.
Also opening Saturday is "The Science of SuperCroc, Featuring Nigersaurus," which will be on display through Aug. 24.
SuperCroc, which is the nickname for Sarcosuchus imperator, hails from the Sahara desert, where it lived about 110 million years ago, according to a museum press release. Scientists estimate the crocodile weighed about 17,000 pounds.