Get a double dose of dinosaurs

07/04/2013 4:37 PM

07/05/2013 7:07 AM

Dinosaurs may be extinct – OK, they are extinct – but they also seem to be more popular than ever.

Take the “Dinosaurs Unearthed” exhibit at Exploration Place.

“It’s just been doing really well,” spokeswoman Christina Bluml said. “We’ve definitely exceeded our budgeted (attendance) numbers since it opened.”

Or consider “Ivan,” as the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton at the Museum of World Treasures is nicknamed.

“He’s our biggest draw,” said museum spokeswoman Rachel Stanley.

On Saturday, the museums are offering a double dose of dinosaurs, with special admission prices, exhibits and activities as part of “Dynamite Dino Day.”

Exploration Place has been hosting a traveling exhibit called “Dinosaurs Unearthed” since May 24. It continues through Labor Day and features 14 animatronic dinosaurs that move and make noise, ranging in size from a 23-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus rex down to a “microraptor,” feathered ancestor of the bird. The exhibit also contains fossils of dinosaur claws, skulls and more.

Like the 2006 exhibit called “A T. rex named Sue,” this one has brought crowds to the museum along the Arkansas River.

“People just love dinosaurs, especially kids,” Bluml said. “It’s just one of those things.”

Saturday, there will be even more to love. In the morning, several outdoor activities will be offered at Exploration Place, including:

• “Ice Age Dig,” practicing your paleontology skills to find dinosaurs trapped in a block of ice
• “Outrunning a T Rex,” in which find out if they would have been fast enough to avoid becoming a dinosaur’s dinner
• Drawing favorite dinosaurs in chalk

Families are encouraged to eat lunch in Exploration Place’s picnic grove before going inside for other activities, including puzzles, coloring stations, fossil hunts and an excavation site.

“Ivan” is just one dinosaur on permanent display at the Museum of World Treasures in Old Town. He was found in South Dakota and is one of the most complete skeletons of his kind, Stanley said.

“Another that is popular is our daspletosaurs, which is nicked ‘Cutie,’” Stanley said. “He’s an ancestor of T. rex. We have them displayed next to each other, which is very helpful to compare how it turned into T. rex.”

Special activities at the museum include a fossil dig, fossil identification and a chance to meet paleontologist Steven King. There’s also a new exhibit called “Form and Function: Making a Living in the Cenozoic,” about the period after dinosaurs became extinct.

Bluml said there are enough dinosaur doings “to be an all-day thing for a family.”

“We’re really telling everybody to come here in the morning and do the outdoor activities, because it will be beautiful, take a break for lunch, grab a bite to eat and then go over to the museum in Old Town.”

Stanley said the Museum of World Treasures is “thrilled to be included in this partnership.”

“This is a great opportunity for the public to have such a diverse day of dinosaurs,” she said. “Their animatronic dinosaurs are really interesting. Here at ours you can see actual fossils, how they were found and how they’re displayed in museums.”

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