Scenes from Dino Day 2012
2013 is an exciting time at the Smithsonian-affiliated Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville, Virginia as two brand new exhibits have opened.
In early-January, even before going into the museum, visitors were greeted on Starling Avenue by a giant inflatable dinosaur which was the first clue that something very exciting was going on!
In "Dinosaurs" and "Dinosaur Discovery", a 40-foot long Acrocanthosaurus cast skeleton, a walk-through maze, and real dinosaur fossil bones all await visitors to explore.
The museum opened the exhibits on Saturday, January 12th and the exhibits will remain open until August 25th. To celebrate the new exhibits, the museum hosted the Dino Day family festival which drew over 1,200 visitors from across the region.
The dinosaur exhibits bring spectacular displays of life-size cast skeletons, as well as real fossil bones of a variety of dinosaurs that roamed the Earth during the Mesozoic era, a timeframe that stretched from approximately 250 million to 65 million years ago. Among the life-size cast skeletons on display are some of the most ferocious and carnivorous dinosaurs to roam the planet, including a 40-foot long skeleton cast of an Acrocanthosaurus and a 12-foot long skeleton cast of the meat-eating Deinonychus.
Included within the "Dinosaur Discovery" exhibit is a walk-through maze, consisting of a series of dinosaur murals on the inner-walls of the maze, as well as dinosaur specimens and interactive elements awaiting participants at nearly every "wrong" turn.
The exhibits also display dozens of real dinosaur fossils, some of which include a Stegasaurus shoulder blade and Diplodocid thigh bones.
Additionally, the exhibit marks the return of one of the museum's most popular displays ever to be exhibited, "Cera" the animatronicTriceratops. With a push of a button, "Cera" moves about for visitors.
During the Dino Day family festival, the museum offered a unique opportunity for visitors to witness the opening of a field jacket containing the fossil bones of a Triceratops skull.
Field jackets are used by paleontologists to safely secure and remove fossils from the ground, as well as keep them secure while being stored.
Spectators watched in amazement through the glass windows as staff Paleontologist Dr. Alton Dooley was assisted by lab preparators and museum volunteers to remove the field jacket and expose fossils estimated to be 65 million years old.
During the next several months museum visitors will be able to observe scientists and volunteers as they examine the fossil and preserve each clue to the past that is extracted.
The "Dinosaurs" and "Dinosaur Discovery" exhibits are sponsored in part by SunTrust and the Martinsville-Henry County Rotary Club. For more information about the museum's exhibits, visit www.vmnh.net or call 276-634-4141.
Spectators watch through the glass with anticipation
as scientists open up the field jacket of a rare fossil.
Fossils of a 65 million year old Triceratops skull
Be sure to visit the Virginia Museum of History soon to see this exhibit before "Dinosaurs" and "Dinosaur Discovery" becomes extinct! While there, enjoy a meal or snack at the Paleo Cafe' and check out the selection of dinosaur and nature inspired gifts at the museum gift shoppe.