Liberty Science Centre debuts new ‘Dino Dig Adventure’ outdoor exhibition

New permanent outdoor exhibition ‘Dino Dig Adventure’ has opened at Liberty Science Centre, New Jersey, US, aiming to bring the dinosaur age to life for anyone who digs dinosaurs.

LSC guests get a taste of what it’s like to be a real-life palaeontologist, from physically digging and uncovering life-size replica dinosaur fossils to learning more about these prehistoric beasts. Dino Dig Adventure invites kids of all ages to celebrate palaeontology through a fun, interactive, and unique experience.

“We view this new exhibition as an authentic tribute to the exciting world of palaeontology,” said Paul Hoffman, the Centre’s president and CEO. “We want to expose our guests to the exacting physical work as well as the evolving body of scientific evidence that inform our current understanding of the dinosaur age.”

At 1,750 square feet and 60 tons of sand, Dino Dig Adventure occupies LSC’s backyard, with a stunning view of the New York City skyline as a backdrop.

The experience begins by exploring the age-old question: “What did dinosaurs really look like?” Guests are greeted by life-size illustrations of some of the most iconic dinosaurs: a nearly 30-foot-tall Brachiosaurus, a 15-foot-tall Spinosaurus, and more, all the way down to a Velociraptor that measures up to the knees of most of the Centre’s adult guests. These illustrations were created in conjunction with a paleoartist who used the latest research about dinosaur anatomy and colours to bring these creatures to life.

Once guests reach the outside portion of the exhibit, they become part of a scene conjuring up some of the world’s most iconic dinosaur dig sites like Ghost Ranch in New Mexico or Egg Mountain in Montana. The sandy dig site holds fossil replicas representing significant recent discoveries about dinosaur behaviour. In three distinct dig pits, guests uncover the three unique phases of dinosaur age: the Triassic, which features a Coelophysis and a Phytosaur; the Jurassic, depicting the aftermath of a confrontation between an Allosaurus and Stegosaurus; and the Cretaceous, featuring a Maiasura adult and her nest. Dedicated amateur palaeontologists may even uncover fossilized dino poop!

Guests climb into each pit to explore or go to table-height areas, which are wheelchair-accessible. They use a brush and their hands to remove sand and uncover fossils, then utilize the educational text and visuals around them to figure out which bones they have discovered. Each bone in the pit is cast from a real dinosaur fossil and has been custom-made by Research Casting International (RCI), which mounts specimens for museums all over the globe. This newly created exhibition is covered by a custom canopy designed to invoke the image of a giant Ankylosaurus, which will protect guest palaeontologists from the elements nearly all year round.

The concept for Dino Dig Adventure started with a pop-up exhibit in 2016 honouring Jack Horner, the palaeontologist who inspired the main character of Dr. Alan Grant in Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park.” Horner was honoured with the LSC Genius Award that year, and opened the original “Dino Dig” on a visit to the Science Centre.

“We saw incredible visitor interest back when we did a ‘Dino Dig’ pop-up in 2016 and knew that we had a hit on our hands,” Mr. Hoffman said. “Paleontologists’ discoveries are constantly updating our understanding of the prehistoric world, so Dino Dig Adventure will be updated as consequential discoveries are made. This exhibition is designed to reflect the dynamic nature of the science of palaeontology.”

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