n Dinosaur Science, Size Is Just the Beginning

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The scene couldn't have been set better. Overcast skies and fog loomed over Reptiland on Route 15, making it feel like it was the Jurassic Period some 200 million years ago.

Amid the forklifts and machine noise, dinosaurs from a time long ago began to appear in the back area of the zoo on Wednesday morning.

A handful of people helped unload the new specimens that will be part of a new outdoor area of the zoo, in an temporary exhibit called "Dinosaurs Come to Life."

Visitors will get a good look at seven animatronic dinosaurs, each nestled in their own habitats. The exhibit opens to the public on April 30.

Dinosaur species such as chasmosaurus, euoplocephalus, dilophosaurus, baby amargasaurus and stegosaurus, and a nest and hatchlings full of [arasaurolophus are part of the exhibit.

The long-necked brachiosaurus also is part of the exhibit, and the ever popular

meat-eater Tyrannosaurus rex will stalk visitors.

Laura Brennan, marketing coordinator at Reptiland, said this a perfect way for anyone with an interest in dinosaurs to see the creatures up-close, young and old.

"The majority of them move their heads up and down, back and forth," she said. "Some of their eyes actually move, which is pretty cool. If you stand underneath T. rex, his eyes look around and it looks like he is singling you out."

The T. rex towers at around 19 feet tall, weighs 7,000 pounds and is 43 feet long. Its herbivore counterpart, the brachiosaurus, has a long neck makes it 18 feet tall. It will be set up to reach into the pine trees to eat.

Each of the dinosaurs makes a sound and one even spits water.

The specimens come from Billings Production, a company based in Texas, which creates such exhibits and rents them to zoos and science centers all over the world.

Because dinosaurs are closely related to reptiles and amphibians, the new exhibit ties in nicely with Reptiland's primary attractions, Brennan said.

The zoo has permanent exhibits of more than 40 species of reptiles and amphibians in the indoor area.

"In some of my research, I found some frogs were around when dinosaurs were (alive)," she said. "Even some butterflies (existed then)."

The butterfly house opens on May 2.

The "Dinosaurs Come Alive" exhibit is the first of its kind to come the area. Large metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh feature exhibits of fossils and bones but have nothing like this, Brennan said.

""Everyone has a curiously about dinosaurs whether its young or old. You can read about them, but here you can actually see them, their size and what they may have actually looked liked," she said.

Visitors will experience an outdoor trail leading them through the exhibit. Each dinosaur has an interpretive panel with more facts and details.

A lot of time and effort has been put into the exhibit by the zoo staff to creature a distinct, "jurassic" habitat for the creatures, through the use of pampas grasses, palms and ferns.

For more information related to dinosaurs, visit rareresource.com.


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