Monday, March 7, 2011

The Giganotosaurus skeleton of dinosaurs resembles that it could come alive at any moment.

The massive reconstruction of the South American dinosaur is a focal point of the international exhibition, “Bigger than T. Rex: Giant Killer Dinosaurs of Argentina,” on display now at the museum.

The exhibit which opened in late January and runs through May 15 has garnered rave reviews from thousands of visitors.

There is great turnout for this particular exhibit, and everyone is really enjoying it,” says Bruce Winslow, director of the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and the Arts.

We were hoping to average about 3,000 visitors a week, and we had more than 1,200 guests on a recent weekend.Seeing dinosaurs that were “bigger than T. Rex” is amazing, particularly for youthful viewers – and their parents, too.

The so-called “Twin Towers of Terror” includes the 45-foot Giganotosaurus skeleton and its companion, a 24-foot juvenile Mapusaurus skeleton.

The Giganotosaurus, which means giant southern lizard in ancient Greek, was one of the largest known terrestrial carnivores.

Scientists estimate that the huge creatures weighed upwards of 10 tons with a skull length of more than six feet.

As might be expected, assembling the skeleton of the Giganotosaurus presented some unique challenges for the museum staff.

“Before we schedule an exhibit like this, we obviously first have to determine if the specimen will even fit in the space,” Winslow says, adding that 45-foot length of the giant southern lizard ended up being less of a spatial issue than its height.

The head had to be hoisted onto the skeleton using a forklift – that meant we had to have space above the head to maneuver it into position. The crew here made it work.

The multiple components of the big dinosaur arrived via semi truck. Reassembly of the Giganotosaurus involved a team of skilled professionals on the museum staff.

“Everything has to be aligned perfectly,” the director says. “The tail alone came in three sections; each piece had to be hoisted very, very gingerly and set into place.

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