Archive for Monday, February 4, 2002

Exhibit includes new dinosaur species

February 4, 2002

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— A dinosaur never before seen in North America is among the highlights of a prehistoric animal display at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History.

The display, called "Jurassic Park: The Life and Death of Dinosaurs," opened Saturday and continues through May 5.

The exhibit includes mounted skeletons and fleshed-out sculptures and props used to make the box-office hit movies, including the velociraptor, the 80-foot long-neck mamenchisaurus and the "spitter" dinosaur, dilophosaurus.

"They did a number of things right, and they did a number of things wrong," said Greg Liggett, assistant director of the museum. A dilophosaurus skeleton next to the model shows the real animal was about twice as big as the movie version.

The display is the largest collection of dinosaur skeletons currently traveling in the United States and includes a species never before seen in North America, Liggett said.

Giganotosaurus (GIG-a-NO-to-SAW-rus), from Patagonia, South America, is slightly larger than the largest Tyrannosaurus rex.

Other fossils on display include insects in amber and fish, turtles and plants from the time of the dinosaurs.

A special-effects "extinction theater" with "Jurassic Park" and "Lost World" star Jeff Goldbum discusses theories of why dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, after being the dominant land animals for at least 180 million years, Liggett said.

"There's been all kinds of speculation on what may have changed on the planet to make them extinct," Liggett said. "Some of them get pretty wild."

Disease and "dinosaur constipation" have both been proposed, Liggett said. The latest theory is that a large asteroid hit the Earth, prompting global climate changes.

The exhibit includes hands-on activities for children and adults, including an "excavation" site.

Last year's exhibit, "A T-Rex Named Sue," drew 105,713 visitors in two months, said museum director Jerry Choate. He hopes more people will attend the current exhibit.

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