Terrible lizards everywhere! According to Mark Lantz, vice president for exhibits at Pacific Science Center in Seattle, “Colossal Fossils: Dinosaurs Around the World” is the first new dinosaur exhibit since the famed T. rex fossil cast named “Sue” was on display on 2002. “It [was] time,” he says, referring to the center’s new dinosaur exhibit.
Pacific Science Center isn’t the only local venue with a focus on dinosaur fossils. A large-scale dino extravaganza comes to the Tacoma Dome this month, and a new fossil-digging space opened at the Everett Mall in May. For those of you willing to make the drive, stellar viewing (and digging) opportunities exist east of the Cascades.
Dino eggs and skeletons
“Colossal Fossils” is the combination of two traveling exhibits: “Chinasaurs,” from the Dalian Natural History Museum in China, and “Hatching from the Past,” an exhibit of fossilized dinosaur eggs from China, Patagonia, France and Uruguay, among other countries. Kids can view real fossilized dinosaur skeletons — including a 50-foot mamenchisaurus — or the IMAX film “Dinosaurs Alive! 3D,” which presents new information about dinosaurs and their relationship to modern birds. All of this should make the exhibit appealing to more than just the preschool set. “Dinosaurs have always sparked the imagination of young children,” Lantz says. “A lot of older kids have already gone through a dino phase, and this is a great opportunity to find out what’s new and to rekindle their interest.” (Open daily through Jan. 6, 2008. $8.50-$10, younger than 3, free. IMAX film admission extra. 206-443-2001, pacsci.org)
Big as life
A life-size animatronic brontosaurus, two stories tall, lumbers across the floor at the Tacoma Dome. “Walking with Dinosaurs — the Live Experience” opens its North American tour in our state this month with a parade of enormous critters, built to scale in an effort to show audiences what actually seeing these prehistoric creatures must have been like. The show is based on the popular BBC television program of the same name. “The show is not intense,” says Steve Brown of the Tacoma Dome. “The dinos won’t try to scare kids,” he adds, but notes that life-size dinosaurs at eye level (in some seats) might be too much for small kids. (July 11-15 at the Tacoma Dome. $34.50-$79.50. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com or call 206-628-0888.)
Digging in the Dirt
Kids excited about paleontology and fossils can get a taste of what it would be like to be out in the field. After excavating a real fossil at Dig It! The Fossil Workshop, which opened in May at the Everett Mall, they can work with it at the fossil preparation station and take it home. The workshop, which originally opened in Utah, grew out of founder Jackie Drecksel’s lifelong interest in paleontology and geology. Drecksel, who has taught the two subjects to kids ages 6-14, hopes that visiting a simulated fossil dig will spark a lifelong interest in visiting kids, as well. “Fossils have been around for millions of years and people are fascinated by the past,” she says. “No matter what generation, kids are interested in fossils, rocks, and minerals.” ($8.99 per specimen. 1402 S.E. Everett Mall Way, Everett. 425-423-8506, digitfossils.com)
Originally published in the July, 2007 print edition of ParentMap.