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The World a Million Years Ago

Housed in a big red dome, "The World a Million Years Ago" was designed and built by Messmore & Damon of New York. Messmore and Damon drifted into designing monsters after creating effects for stage productions, motion pictures, and department store displays. In 1920 they built an elephant that could do just about anything a real elephant could do. The elephant proved popular, and 40 of them were sold. It seemed natural that their next model would be something even bigger--the dinosaur. After that they tackled a Mammoth, and the rest followed. Work on the World's Fair show began in 1927. Messmore and Damon patented most of their monsters' motions. Making their heads go up and down was easy, but loose-jointed twisting motions were much more difficult.

Inside the dome was a moving concourse that carried visitors around the exhibit. First you passed groups of prehistoric men and displays of prehistoric animals. Then there was one huge pit with ten of the large monsters swaying, stamping, and roaring in a realistic swamp-jungle setting. A Dinosaur was 50 feet long with a neck reach of 16 feet. A Prehistoric Ape was 10 feet tall. The Mammoth weighed 4 tons. Inside the Mammoth were 16 motors, giving him 32 primary and 800 secondary motions. Other animals included the Platybelodon (shovel-jawed elephant), Giant Ground Sloth, Sabre-toothed Tiger, Wooly Rhinocerus, and Brontosaurus. The cries emitted by the animals were based on the shapes of their throats and thoraxes, which led to inferences about the volume and character of their chest tones.



Mammoth is the Russian name for an extinct species of gigantic elephant which roamed the black, cold regions of the earth during the Pleistocene Peeriod. Towering at a height of ten to twelve feet, the Mammoth weighed about twenty tons and was thickly covered with hair. The tusks of the Mammoth curved upwards and ranged from ten to twelve feet in length.


Ground Sloth

This strange beast was one of the most peculiar animals that lived during the Pliocene Period. It had enormous hindquarters on which it stood, while its short strong forearms were used to uproot trees, which in due course, were used for food.



A Species of vegetarian Dinosaur, equipped by nature with an armored skin and three horns for protection against the attacks of his vicious meat eating relatives.



It was in the Jurassic Period that the smaller reptiles were forced to take refuge in trees. And so it was that the development from Reptile Life to Bird Life commenced; the legs of the reptile gradually becoming wings. The Pterodactyl was the largest bird that ever learned to fly, with a spread of 20 feet from tip to tip of wing.


Amphibious Dinosaurus Brontosaurus

In the beginning the Dinosaur was a vicious monster who feasted on the meat of other living animals; but, after millions of years, a drastic change took place in his diet, and we find him a strict "vegetarian" living on leaves and plants. Dinosaurs weighed as much as 80,000 pounds.


Death Struggle Between Dimetrodon and Varanops

The larger of the two Permian Reptiles depicted is the Dimetrodon, who lived in Texas, and, who, quite proud of his spread of fins, roamed over the Reptile World, master of all he surveyed. The length was about 8 ft. and the height 4 ft. The smaller reptile in the illustration is a Varanops, the length of which was about 4 ft.

1933, MESSMORE & DAMON, New York, originators of recontructed life size animated, colossal, prehistoric animals with life-like motions and natural sounds. First to show them inside and outside for exhibition purposes.



The Sinclair Oil Company chose to exhibit dinosaurs because their existence conincided with the time oil was being formed in the Mesozoic Age. The exhibit was the first attempt to recreate outdoors a portion of the earth's surface and animal life as it existed milllions of years ago. The outdoor exhibit required materials that could withstand the elements for five months. The dinosaurs were modeled of plaster on a steel skeleton. Cloth and rubber covered the joints between sections and, with the aid of internal machinery, allowed motion.

The Brontosaurus was the largest and most popular of the dinosaurs in the exhibit. He breathed, lashed his tail, swung his head, and made noises. In life, he weighed 40 tons and was 65-70 feet long. The animated model in the exhibit weighed two tons. Other dinosaurs in the exhibit included Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, Protoceratops, and Trachodon. The dinosaurs at the fair were such a success that smaller rubber dinosaurs, with wiggling heads and tails, were used for ads at Sinclair filling stations.

Wish I Was There!



The picture of the domed exhibit building is from a souvenir booklet The World a Million Years Ago. Descriptions of the animals in that exhibit are from the postcard backs. Other information is from an articles in the Official World's Fair Weekly :
Vol. 1 No. 6, "Monsters Made to Seem Alive." The Messmore & Damon exhibit.
Vol. 1 No. 8, "The Zoo of Dragons." The Sinclair exhibit.

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