It’s been a long time since I have been to see a dinosaur exhibit. The last one I remember seeing was at the ROM in Toronto, Ontario. So, while everyone out here in LA has been rushing out to see the Endeavour, I decided to take a trip back in time instead to the age of dinosaurs at The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. I was really excited to refresh my knowledge and see what new things there were to behold. I brought my kids along with me to get the teen perspective on things.
Upon entering the museum there were a couple different ways we could go, as there are plenty of creatures on display (as well as artwork, ancient artifacts, minerals and more), but we made a beeline straight for Dinosaur Hall! I felt the awe and wonder come rushing back to me, and the kids were amazed as well. We just marvelled at the sheer size of the dinosaurs and the fact that their existence was real. The hall is two stories tall to accommodate for the height of the mounts.
This museum boasts the only display of a Tyrannosaurus rex growth series. They have a baby, a juvenile, and a sub-adult. The baby is the youngest known T. rex fossil in the world! My daughter was really drawn to get up on the display and sit with them. They were calling to her I guess, but the watchful eye of museum assistants kept her at bay. That says a lot for the presentation of the dinosaurs in this hall. The energy is very lively and the fact that she would want to climb right up there says what a good job they have done at exciting curiosity. They have done everything to make your experience interactive, from allowing you to get right up close and touch fossils, to mounting dinosaurs at various heights so you can get the feeling of what it would be like to walk under them, or come face to face.
I enjoyed their digital interactive displays, as well. We know that every dinosaur movie and cartoon portray similar sounds of dinosaurs roaring, but no one was around at that time to truly know what they sounded like. The scientists at this museum pumped air through skeleton heads in such a way to mimic the way breath might come out and produce sound. This digital display allowed you to click and hear the noise that was made. It’s pretty eery, yet very interesting and close to what we’ve come to recognize as dino ‘voices’.
I learned so much in just this one part of the museum. There were a lot of things I had never seen before, such as a fossilized egg that had been opened to reveal a fossilized dinosaur embryo, and extremely tiny bones representing the smallest known dinosaurs. Also, it’s only recently that I have been hearing birds described as living evolved dinosaurs (I know I may be a little behind the times, but then I am a dancer and traveller curious to learn and discover more, rather than a scientist). There are displays that show how swans and ostriches come from branches of the dinosaur family that separated before their larger cousins became extinct. When examining the anatomy of birds it became clear to scientists that they evolved and are still a part of the predatory group of dinos known as theropods. Comparing a pelican to a velociraptor shows it inherited certain features.
From the Dino Hall, we went over to catch one of the Dinosaur Encounters shows. There were A LOT of little children in there! We were really intrigued though, and I had heard that the dinosaur puppets used here were pretty intense, so we sat ourselves right amongst them. The environment and tone of the room definitely set the stage for a great adventure! A palaeontologist (actor) came out and tested the kids on their knowledge. I was pretty impressed with what they knew. They sounded like loud cheering fans at a baseball game too. Dinosaurs are pretty cheer worthy, after all! Just as the palaeontologist described the possible hunting theories for the T. rex, this happened …
That was such brilliant fun! From there we went to explore the Dino Lab. Here we were able to see current fossils that were being worked on from a recent discovery. They had cast moulds made of some of them, in an open display, so you could touch and feel them. Always aiming to educate the patrons, they had signs pointing to the yet unrecognizable bones explaining what they were. It was interesting to me that they were keeping them under certain light and temperature conditions.
It’s thrilling to know that new dinosaur discoveries continue to be made. This museum definitely keeps up with new research. They have their own dig teams and have even re-posed some dinosaurs based on recent findings. I wonder what they will find next! They certainly managed to impress my teens. Here’s what my son thought about it all:
I had a very entertaining experience. The Dinosaur Hall was amazing and brightened up my face the second I stepped inside. I couldn’t have learned any great detail of knowledge about dinos anywhere else. This museum was quite the adventure!
Seems the dinosaurs stand the test of time!