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Dinosaurs invade the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia

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STORY WRITTEN BY VINCE CAREY
vcarey@21st-centurymedia.com
@vincecarey on Twitter

PHILADELPHIA >> The last thing anybody probably figured they would see while walking down the street would be a dinosaur.
Certainly not one that’s moving, roaring and bigger than a bus.
“This is going to be quite an experience for young and old,” said George W. Gephart Jr., President and CEO of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University about the exhibit “Dinosaurs Unearthed.”
The newest special exhibit at the museum runs through Sept. 2.
To make sure nobody misses something different is going on, anybody walking past the museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia is greeted by the roar of “Rexy, The Tyrannosaurus Rex” and “Trixie, The Triceratops.” Each is a fully-functional, animatronic dinosaur with enough voice to raise their real ancestors.


IF YOU GO

What: “Dinosaurs Unearthed”
Where: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia.
When: Now through Jan. 17.
Hours: 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday; 10 a.m.–5 p.m., weekends and holidays; closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day.
Info.: Check www.ansp.org or call (215) 299-1000 for museum admission fees and exhibit admission fees.

“They are just two of the many, many animatronic dinosaurs we have inside,” Gephart said. “They are designed with cutting-edge software. Custom designed and hand-crafted by Paleo artists.”
The Natural Science Museum has been known for years as the “Dinosaur museum,” with its replica of a life-size skeleton of the T-Rex as soon as you turn right after paying the admission.
There is a also a place you can find your own fossils, see yourself being chased in a Jurassic jungle and run like one of the long-extinct creatures.

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“Dinosaurs Unearthed” is different, though. These aren’t just bones glued back together. These dinosaurs move and react.
“This is a really exciting day for me being a paleontologist,” said Dr. Ted Daeschler, vice president Systematics and Library at the museum. “We are probably North America’s dinosaur museum. This is the place where dinosaur science started in North America. This is the place where dinosaur exhibition started in North America.
“Back in the 1850s, people knew about these odd, large reptilian animals called dinosaurs from bits and pieces. In 1858, the academy did the first science on the first dinosaur skeleton ever discovered and described and that was in Haddonfield, N.J.”
The dinosaurs now, do more than just stand around. They roar in your ear and you learn they look a little different than the ones in the movies.
For instance, one of the most famous dinosaurs is the Velociraptor. It was made famous in the Jurassic Park movies, has an NBA team named after it (OK, one in Toronto, but still) and is thought of as one of the greatest killing machines ever created.
Seriously, the Velociraptors in the movies are smarter than any of the humans trying to get away and have more teeth than a Great White Shark.
While the Raptor probably was a skilled hunter and were able to survive thousands of years, they look a little bit different.
Now, research shows they probably had feathers and, like the one in Dinosaurs Unearthed,” looked more like a giant chicken.
OK, a giant chicken that could tear apart smaller animals and fight bigger ones, but still a chicken.
“We love to display dinosaurs and have people enjoy them,” Daeschler said. “It’s a great entree into learning about science and earth science in general.”
The museum, like many, is not just putting the cool animatronics on display, though. Each dinosaur is interactive. There are buttons to control the tail, arms, head and neck.
Meanwhile, there are also a bunch of smaller exhibits with facts and tidbits about dinosaurs.
Ever wonder how your size compares with a dino? Hop on the scale if you dare.
One of the more popular interactives is a game table at which the visitor has to find various dinosaurs within a scene of a prehistoric forest. Not the easiest thing to do.
There’s also a special coloring book created by Jason Poole and Jason P. Schein.
These creatures might have lived millions of years ago, but they are alive and well (mostly) at the Natural Sciences Museum.
“This summer is going to be a dino-mite summer,” Gephart said. “Dinosaurs are larger than life, and, let me tell you, they’re not just for kids.”

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