As we approach the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park, it might be the perfect opportunity for families and friends to not only rewatch the blockbuster film, but to immerse yourself in a world that used to be. There are opportunities all over the world where you can explore the wondrous history of dinosaurs. Today, we’ll give you a glimpse at what’s available to see at centers or museums at various locations.
To further your anticipation of seeing such amazing relics, we will quote the wonderful film which still lives up to the hype: “Now, eventually, you do plan to have dinosaurs on your, on your dinosaur tour, right? Hello?”
WESTERN UNITED STATES
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Los Angeles, CA
Would you like to see a T-Rex grow? Dinosaur Hall presents a very unique opportunity for fans of all ages, as it “features the world’s only Tyrannosaurus rex growth series.” This exhibit includes a fossil baby, juvenile, and “Thomas the T. rex” – all at approximate ages of 2, 13, and 18 upon death. All of these discoveries originated in the state of Montana, with the most recent Thomas being collected from 2003 through 2005.
In addition to the growth series, you can visit the Dino Lab and touch an authentic footprint and toe bone “that are 66 and 120 million years old.” The lab also offers an inside look at paleontologists sifting through history, whether it be restoration, sculpting missing parts, or cataloguing photos of fossils. If you are a member of the Natural History Museum, you also have the chance to meet the staff and tour the Dino Lab.
Natural History Museum of Utah (NHMU)
Salt Lake City, UT
The NHMU houses the recently discovered (2009) Lythronax argestes, also known as the “Gore King of the Southwest.” The Lythronax belongs “to the same evolutionary branch as the famous Tyrannosaurus rex,” and based on its age, makes it the oldest tyrannosaurid ever discovered.
In addition to newly discovered species, the museum has its own list of “Top Dinosaurs” for visitors to see in the Past Worlds exhibit. The Paleontology staff has seen its research of the last ten years make incredible strides – it “has resulted in major discoveries of new species of dinosaurs and other vertebrate animals from the time of dinosaurs. The goal of [their] fieldwork is to understand how climate and sea level have driven the evolution and biogeography of non-marine vertebrate animals during the Triassic and Cretaceous.”
People interested in the field can also volunteer to be on the NHMU Paleontology team.
Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center (RMDRC)
Woodland Park, CO
Did you know that Triceratops are generally discovered by the skull alone? I learned that from the Dinosaur Resource Center – “Triceratops skulls are fairly common as fossils, but skeletons, especially articulated ones, are among the rarest. Predators and scavengers usually devoured the bodies and the large surface area of the skulls caused the water flow to tumble them away.”
Visitors can also go on a guided tour as part of their admission. In addition to seeing skeletons, they also provide sculptures and images to help display the “life and the environments in which they lived.” They also provide a Jurassic Park (film) moment with the Children’s Learning Center – “Ever wanted to feel dinosaur poop?” This kids’ zone gives them the opportunity to build dinosaurs out of magnets, grab a brush to take part in a dig box, and the RMDRC also provides a pair of movies for families to learn about dinosaurs.
Also, based out of the RMDRC is the Dinosaur Sanctuary of Triebold Paleontology, Inc. (TPI), where they “have been supplying the world’s museums with fossils and casts since 1989.” Not only do they work on constructing exhibits, they also sell cast skeletons and offer a “traveling exhibitions available for booking.” Do we hear best birthday party, ever?
EASTERN UNITED STATES
American Museum of Natural History
New York, NY
The American Museum of Natural History in New York is “home of the world’s largest collection of dinosaur fossils.” Such a distinction makes this museum a must-see for any and all fans of dinosaurs, especially for those looking to see something gigantic!
The Titanosaur exhibit was put on display in early 2016, even before the dinosaur had been given its formal name. “This species of dinosaur, a giant herbivore that belongs to a group known as titanosaurs, is so new that it has not yet been formally named by the paleontologists who discovered it.” This 122-foot long dinosaur was later given its scientific name in 2017 – Patagotitan mayorum. The Titanosaur’s name refers to three specific components; the place of discovery in Argentina’s southern region of Patagonia (Patago), its massive size (titan), and the Mayo family ranch it was found on (mayorum). This new species is the largest displayed at the museum and “one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered.”
This museum provides an abundance of dinosaurs to see when visiting and it also gives parents and their kids an opportunity to participate in online activities. There are games to download or play online, informational videos, and how-to sections for drawing dinosaurs, creating an exhibit, and making your very own stationary with colorful images of different dinosaurs on each sheet. On top of children’s activities, there are many, many ways to learn about these ancient creatures, with seemingly endless online resources devoted to sharing information on dinosaurs. Paleontological fans can explore dinosaur bones and eggs, discover the origins of their names, which are also governed by a set of rules, wander through a collection of assorted facts, and even watch over forty brief videos that answer a wide variety of questions that many would ask if they were to explore the museum in person.
Dinosaur State Park
Rocky Hill, CT
How would you like to explore the tracks of a dinosaur? The Dinosaur State Park opened in 1968 after dinosaur tracks were accidentally discovered during the construction of a state building. Now, “more than five hundred of the tracks are now enclosed within the Exhibit Center’s geodesic dome.”
Along with seeing tracks within the Exhibit Center, the Dinosaur State Park has murals depicting the Jurassic and Triassic periods. After a renovation in 2014, the site has introduced various displays and stations where families can have a hands-on experience, which include items native to the state of Connecticut.
There are also miles of nature trails nearby, and on these trails, the park provides opportunities for visitors to make track castings from May through October. The Arboretum encompasses the main center, “which was established to showcase plants that have a direct link to those that existed during the Age of Dinosaurs.”
A unique fact of the Dinosaur State Park comes at the hands of an initially failed attempt at enclosing the site in a “bubble building.” After this shell finally fell apart, a permanent fixture was put in place after a “letter-writing campaign by children,” which states the significance of this state park to its residents.
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Dinosaur Hall in the Academy of Natural Sciences has “more than 30 species and other Mesozoic reptiles” on display. A distinct feature of this exhibit comes in the form of the Stegosaurus – “a life-size model showing the internal anatomy.” Guests can also see dinosaur sculptures, paleontologist tools, and take part in a green-screen, which allows visitors to immerse themselves into the land before time.
A fun feature on their website brings an assortment of dinosaurs to your screen with the touch of a button. There are currently eleven different dinosaurs to choose from, and all of them have a variety of information on each one. You can learn about where they roamed, what they ate, how large they are, and discover the meaning of their scientific name. This is a simple and wonderful feature that’s guaranteed to win over parents and their kids with a quick burst of knowledge.
BEYOND THE STATES
Royal Tyrrell Museum
How would you like to conduct a dig for dinosaur fossils using tools of the trade? For ages seven and up, “The Dig Experience” provides registrants with the opportunity to unearth a reconstructed site and obtain an acute understanding of a paleontologist’s work. This is a 90-minute activity that is available during the end of June through August and they do recommend advance registration.
In the Royal Tyrrell Museum, Dinosaur Hall is listed to house “one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaur remains.” Another current exhibit, Cretaceous Alberta, shows its guests what life might’ve looked like in the surrounding area millions of years ago. The origin of this exhibit comes in the form of 22 skeletons being discovered in what they describe as a “mass grave.”
The museum provides unique access for paleontology students and researchers. If you submit the proper form, select individuals can gain access to a collection of artifacts that includes “over 160,000 fossil vertebrates, invertebrates, plants and geologic specimens, including over 350 holotypes.” Now that’s an incredible opportunity for those looking to explore Alberta.
Also, if you’re willing to travel approximately eight minutes, you’ll find yourself at the World’s Largest Dinosaur.
The Dinosaur Museum
“Established in 1984, The Dinosaur Museum in Dorchester was the first museum in Britain solely devoted to the fascinating world of Dinosaurs.”
As one of the World Heritage Museums, visitors will have the experience of an organization dedicated to over 30 years of creating “new techniques in Museums and Exhibitions to national and international acclaim which have seen over 4 million visitors enjoy our Museums and Exhibitions.”
One of The Dinosaur Museum’s features is its inherent desire for all guests to have a hands-on experience. Along with providing information sheets for schools and group visits, the museum embraces the fact that dinosaurs are beloved by children and its “unique mix of fossils, skeletons, and life-size dinosaur reconstructions with hands-on, interactive and video displays make it an ideal learning environment for children.”
Families can have fun immediately by checking out “Dino Facts” online. This list gives you the inside scoop of the smallest, heaviest, fastest, and even the dinosaur with the longest name. It’s a great resource and it also shows the museum’s ability to have fun by providing Dino jokes.
“What do you call a dinosaur with one eye?”
If you are a fan of dinosaurs, there’s a good chance you can find something relatively close to home, if you’re willing to do a little bit of digging. What do you think of this list? What are your favorite dinosaur locations that you would give a big thumb’s up to? What is your favorite dinosaur?
If you liked this content, don’t forget to like and rate this page underneath and head over to the Geeky Parent Guide on Facebook and Twitter to share your favorites with us. Plus, you can look forward to additional content surrounding the blockbuster film.
Fanbase Press will be continuing its celebration of Jurassic Park’s 25th anniversary later in June, including a Fanbase Feature podcast of the new film, Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom. There will also be several editorials, a look back at our past Jurassic Park-focused content, and much more geeky goodness.
Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.