T. Rex Encounter:
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science presents an exhibit on the most infamous dinosaur of the Cretaceous period, the Tyrannosaurus rex. Joseph Sertich, Ph.D., the museum’s curator of vertebrate paleontology, 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 rise to the top of the pecking order of dinosaurs. Paleontologists also took note of the size of the dinosaur 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 the skeleton of a T. rex named Sue. The dinosaur skeleton is named after paleontologist Sue Hendrickson, who discovered the bones in a 1990 excavation in South Dakota. However, scientists do not know Sue’s sex because there are not enough fossils available to study the 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, a long life for a dinosaur. “It shows the life of a single T. rex because all its wounds are preserved in its bones,” 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. Robots developed by KumoTek Robotics feature motion sensing technology, and robotic dinosaurs respond to the actions of visitors.
While the robotic dinosaurs seemed to scare some younger children with their realistic movements, the older children were impressed by the technology. “It’s cool,” said 7-year-old museum visitor Leif Wegener as he looked at the Triceratops robot.
All signage in the T. Rex Encounter exhibit is displayed in 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 everyone, it’s a great exhibit,” Sertich said of the bilingual exhibit. “It’s a really cool way to go back to the Cretaceous.”
In conjunction with the T. Rex Encounter, the museum will also show a double feature with two IMAX movies about dinosaurs, “Dinosaurs Alive!” and “Waking the T. Rex: The Story of Sue.”
Museum location and hours:
Museum of Nature and Science of
Denver 2001 Colorado Blvd.
Hours for 2011:
Every day from 9 am to 5 pm
The exhibition runs from September 16, 2011 to 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 gang hunting for dinosaurs. The talk will take place on Wednesday. October 7 at 7 p.m., and tickets range from $ 8 to $ 12.
- Dinosaur Festival – The museum will hold a festival celebrating dinosaurs on Saturday. October 22 and Sunday. October 23. Included in the entrance to the museum.
- Science Lounge: Rex, Drinks and Rock & Roll – Dinosaur lovers 21 and over can get together and mingle on Thursday. November 17 from 6:30 to 9:30 pm Tickets range from $ 8 to $ 10.
Nina Snyder is the author of “Good Day, Broncos,” an e-book for children, and “ABCs of Balls,” a picture book for children. Visit her website at ninasnyder.com.