Samantha Perry

Dinos Soar Back to Life: Exhibits that Go Beyond Fossils

Samantha Perry

The first time I watched Jurassic Park, there was no question in my mind that the dinosaurs were real and that one of the actresses had truly been covered in snot by a sick brontosaurus on set. I was only about five or six at the time, sitting beside my dad on the couch with wide eyes and a strange mix of fear and curiosity. We learn from the film that biologically recreated dinosaurs are not something to play around with, but who didn’t want to see dinosaurs up close? Luckily, there are some much safer versions of the experience being recreated around the world.

The newest dino experience is still in production in Japan, where designers are creating a few of the most lifelike dinosaurs yet. Dino-A-Live, an interactive exhibit within the proposed Dino-A-Park, sets out to have human-operated robotic dinosaurs, using real fossils as the blueprints. Several dinosaurs are nearly complete, including an eight-foot-tall T. rex that showcases the exhibit’s half-spectacle, half-performance nature. Demonstrations of the performance included “handlers” dressed in military uniforms as they tried to tame the unruly T. rex. Proposals for the park hope to have the project financed this year, but it will take several years to build. Luckily, in the meantime, there are several prehistoric themed options available.

The Franklin Institute’s Jurassic World: The Exhibition features seven animatronic dinosaurs as well as interactive educational elements, which are inspired by the film series. Although the dinos at the Franklin Institute are fixed into place, the attention to detail is very impressive! With the help of paleontologist Jack Horner, the animatronics and interactive components are modeled on real science and dinosaur DNA—modeled conceptually, that is, unlike the DNA that Dr. Hammond used to create the monsters for his infamous park. Don‘t worry, no prehistoric mosquitos trapped in amber were used in the making of this exhibit. The Franklin Institute will house the exhibit through April 23, 2017, with plans to continue its North American tour.

Another impressive dinosaur attraction is a 60-acre park in Utah. The Moab Giants Dinosaur Park contains more than 100 life-size dinosaur sculptures. Visitors are free to meander through the half-mile trail in Utah’s desert landscape. The park also includes “Dig It Out Sites” that provide a chance to find fossils and traces of long-extinct animals. Moab Giants also boasts educational and interactive materials with a 3D cinema and games within its Tracks Museum. Plus, all the dinos are extremely photogenic!

For now it seems we’re safe from those Jurassic monsters I was so convinced were real in the 1993 film. These exhibits provide a much more protected experience. Visit your favorite while you have the chance!

Did You Know?
Before the big reveal of the T. rex in Jurassic Park, a glass of water on the dashboard of the car rattles as the dinosaur approaches. This effect was created by fixing a guitar string underneath the dashboard and strumming it to send vibrations through the water.

Photo Credit: Marco Becerra

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