Walk among giants

T-Rex! Triceratops! Stegosaurus! Get up close with these hulking dinosaurs at the Dinosaurs Live! exhibition today!

THE theme music to Jurassic Park started playing in my head as I walked through the legs and under the belly of a huge (and er … headless) dinosaur at the entrance of the exhibition gallery.

Then, a loud roar startled me, and I came face to face with the gigantic jaws of a crocodile-like Deinosuchus snapping at me.

All around the room, there were dinosaurs roaring and baring their fangs, and further inside, I was greeted by the majestic sight of a humongous Tyrannosaurus Rex looming over a Triceratops, both dinosaurs seemingly preparing to do battle.

During that walk through the fascinating Dinosaurs Live! exhibition, I was taken back in time and was once again the dinosaur-loving little kid who used to devour books about dinosaurs while learning how to pronounce Pteranodon, imagining how they would look up close, and even fantasising about riding on the back of one of these scaly behemoths (specifically the Triceratops, because dinosaurs with horns are cool, especially when they have three of them).

Presented by Cityneon and EMS Exhibits in official media partnership with The StarDinosaurs Live! is currently being held at National Science Centre from now till July 31. It is an exhibition that promises to deliver the thrills not only to children of all ages, but also to adults who grew up loving dinosaurs.

Seriously, who doesn’t love dinosaurs? After all, these giant prehistoric creatures were once the mightiest animals on the planet, roaming Earth some 65 million to 250 million years ago.

They have always been a source of fascination to us, because unlike other fantastic mythical creatures like dragons, unicorns and phoenixes, dinosaurs actually existed.

“Everyone loves dinosaurs!” exclaimed Ong Chun Teck, Cityneon general manager. “Many of us grew up loving dinosaurs, because these were big, strong, powerful, cool-looking creatures … and they were actually real!”

Case in point – the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Probably the most famous of all the dinosaurs, it was for most of the 20th century considered the largest carnivore to have ever walked on Earth – until the discovery of the colossal Giganotosaurus in 1993.

Dinosaurs Live! promises to enchant young and old.

The Rex has been immortalised in countless films, documentaries, cartoons and video-games.

But even the gentlest of herbivorous dinosaurs were behemoths of immense strength and power. The Triceratops had three awesome horns, the Stegosaurus had armour plates across its back, and the Ankylosaurus had a mighty mace-like tail it could defend itself with.

And don’t forget the smaller dinosaurs, which were forces to be reckoned with as well – in Jurassic Park, the most frightening dinosaur was not the T-Rex, but the smaller, but more vicious velociraptor (though the ones at the exhibition are actually very different from the ones in the movie).

Anyway, back to the exhibition. Dinosaurs Live! is a completely different experience from a previous dinosaur exhibition that was held at the same venue last year, according to Ong.

“Unlike most other dinosaur exhibitions, which are created solely for the sake of entertainment, the exhibits at Dinosaurs Live! are of museum quality and were even curated by scientists and palaeontologists,” he said, adding that every detail on each dinosaur is scientifically accurate, and they are all made to a life-sized scale.

Remember Mimaland? That now defunct theme park in the 80s used to have an outdoor park with large-scale models of dinosaurs, and little pre-schooler me used to love scurrying amongst those statues and pointing out the different names of the dinosaurs.

If there was one complaint I had about Mimaland’s dino park, it was that the dinosaurs just stood there and did nothing, which got a little boring after a while. Well, you won’t be seeing that at Dinosaurs Live!, that’s for sure. Almost every single dinosaurs on display at the National Science Centre will be animated through animatronics that enable them to move their bodies, eyes and tongues, and making them seem incredibly life-like and realistic.

One of the first things you notice when you walk into the Dinosaurs Live! gallery are the terrifying teeth of the Deinosuchus.

Just don’t expect them to transform into Dinobots, though. The robotics are not that advanced.

Triggered by sophisticated infrared motion-sensing technology, the dinosaurs will roar at you as soon as you walk close to it.

According to Ong, the Dinosaurs Live! exhibition had been running in Singapore for three months from Dec 2011 to Feb 2012; and they’d been looking to bring it up to KL for some time now. Unfortunately, the largest of the dinosaurs in the Singapore exhibition, including the long-necked sauropods such as the Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus, did not make it to KL as the gallery at the National Science Centre was not big enough to accommodate these gentle giants.

Nevertheless, the dinosaurs that made the trip still make for a pretty impressive exhibition. They include, among others, the Triceratops, Pteranodon, Stegosaurus, Iguanodon, Ankylosaurus, Dimetrodon, Styracosaurus, and of course, the largest of them all, the Tyrannosaurus Rex (which the organisers affectionately called the T-Rex Mama, because there is a smaller, baby Tyrannosaurus displayed next to it.

All the dinosaurs are grouped together according to the prehistoric period in which they existed. Since the main focus of the exhibition is to provide an entertaining education in palaeontology, a lot of effort has been put into making sure that the exhibition is also interactive, as opposed to just a mere walk-through with plaques with information on them.

“The exhibition will also have specially trained ‘palaeontologists tour guides’ to bring the visitors through, and the tours will be conducted in three languages – English, Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin,” said Ong.

All the information available on each dinosaur is proven scientifically and includes well-researched information on the place of discovery, period of existence, anatomical characteristics, food patterns and scientific discoveries about the evolution and habitats of each dinosaur.

Besides the dinosaurs, there will also be a full-scale model of a T-Rex skeleton displayed in the annexe of the National Science Centre. There are also lots of fun activities and games for the kids and family, including a Triceratops ride, a dinosaurs that lays “eggs” for you to catch, kiosks for colouring and etching, and even a treadmill game where kids can try to see if they can outrun a dinosaur!

So, what are you waiting for? Round up the kids and family, and go catch some live dinosaurs today!

Now, excuse me while I see if I can fulfil my lifelong childhood dream of finally getting to ride a Triceratops …

The Dinosaurs Live! exhibition is open from 9am to 5pm every day including school and public holidays except for Fridays. Tickets are priced at RM15 for adults and RM12 for children. For details, visitwww.psn.gov.my or call 03-2089 3400. Cityneon is the events and exhibition services subsidiary of Star Publications.

TARIKH / DATE : 05-05-2012
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