T. Rex Encounter:
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is hosting an exhibit about the Cretaceous period's most infamous dinosaur, the Tyrannosaurus rex. Joseph Sertich, Ph.D., the curator of vertebrate paleontology at the museum, said T. rex "became the dominant apex predator in the Cretaceous."
During the Cretaceous period, which was 144 to 65 million years ago, the carnivore's excellent vision and unmatched speed allowed it to climb to the top of the dinosaur pecking order. Paleontologists also took note of the dinosaur's size when the first T. rex was discovered more than 100 years ago, as rex means "king" in Latin.
A T. Rex Named Sue:
The main attraction at the T. Rex Encounter is a cast skeleton of a T. rex named Sue. The dinosaur skeleton was named after paleontologist Sue Hendrickson, who discovered the bones in 1990 on a dig in South Dakota. However, scientists do not know Sue's sex because there are not enough fossils available to study differences between male and female dinosaurs.
Sue's skeleton represents the most complete fossil of a T. rex discovered to date. Sue lived to be 28 years old, a long life for a dinosaur. "It shows the life of a single T. rex because preserved in her bones are all the injuries in her life," Sertich said.
While T. rex was the king of the dinosaurs, other types of dinosaurs flourished during the Cretaceous period as well. The T. Rex Encounter includes a robotic version of Sue, as well as a robotic Triceratops and two robotic Saurornitholestes. The robots developed by KumoTek Robotics feature motion detection technology, and the robotic dinosaurs respond to visitors' actions.
While the robotic dinosaurs appeared to scare some younger children with their lifelike motions, older children were impressed by the technology. "It's cool," said museum visitor Leif Wegener, 7, as he watched the robotic Triceratops.
All of the signage at T. Rex Encounter exhibit is displayed in both English and Spanish to appeal to bilingual audiences. The exhibit is a combination of two exhibits from the Field Museum in Chicago, with some additional content from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
"We wanted to attract everybody, it's such a cool exhibit," said Sertich of the bilingual exhibit. "It's a really cool way to go back into the Cretaceous."
In conjunction with the T. Rex Encounter, the museum will also be showing a double feature with two IMAX films about dinosaurs, "Dinosaurs Alive!" and "Waking the T. Rex: The Story of Sue."
Museum Location and Hours:
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
2001 Colorado Blvd.
Denver, CO 80205
Hours for 2011:
Daily 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
The exhibit runs from Sept. 16, 2011 - January 8, 2012, and is included with general admission to the museum.
Programs and Special Events:
- Dino Gangs: Dinosaur expert Philip Currie, Ph.D., will share the latest theories on dinosaurs hunting in gangs. The talk will be held on Wed. Oct. 7 at 7 p.m., and tickets range from $8 to $12.
- Dinosaur Festival: The museum will hold a festival celebrating dinosaurs on Sat. Oct. 22 and Sun. Oct. 23. Included in museum admission.
- Science Lounge: Rex, Drinks, and Rock & Roll: Dinosaur lovers over the age of 21 can meet and mingle on Thurs. Nov. 17 from 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. Tickets range from $8 to $10.
Nina Snyder is the author of "Good Day, Broncos," a children's e-book, and "ABCs of Balls," a children's picture book. Visit her website at ninasnyder.com.