New museum exhibit welcomes Baby T. Rex

imageTeething toddlers can exhaust parents, but a set of chompers on a two-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex that has just arrived to the Natural History Museum may delight parents and children starting July 16. After all, those baby teeth teeth were once capable of reaching the side of a ram’s horn – each.

The ostrich-sized baby T.rex is just one of the new world-class dinosaur specimens to be unveiled to the public as part of a new 14,000 square-foot Dinosaur Hall.

Sunlight piles into the enormous, two-level showroom, which is also home to more than 300 fossils, like eggs, footprints and teeth. Two other T.rex specimens loom over the fledgling dino – one, a 20-foot-tall teenager and the other, a 34-foot-tall adult named “Thomas.” He is one of the largest and most complete T.rex skeletons ever unearthed and now stands with the only T.rex incremental growth series in the world.

“We used to have [a dinosaur hall] a few years back, but it was kind of small,” said Iliana Dominguez, a 17-year old museum volunteer. “Everybody’s been expecting one and now we finally have it. I think a lot of people are going to be coming for that hall.

Dominguez has volunteered since last year and has been trained as an educator for the new dinosaur specimens. She held up a mold of a T.rex brain – the size of a cordless telephone receiver – and explained that the creatures relied more on instinct and brawn than brainpower.

image“This really is a place to learn,” said Dominguez, a New Designs Charter School student who has her eye on an archaeology program at Cornell University. “Most of us who took the dinosaur training have been really excited to study more and learn all the facts we can.”

Volunteers and staff receive regular visits from outside experts who train them as guides in the museum’s exhibits, which range from a gem display room to an Age of Mammals display that chronicles human evolution. Gallery translators trained in details about the exhibits comb the hallways for guests looking for more in-depth knowledge.

When guests enter the Dinosaur Hall, they are first greeted by a Triceratops with a skull that weighs nearly half a ton. As they move past the bulky beast toward more elongated creatures, visitors must crane their necks to follow the 68-foot body length of a long-necked Mamenchisaurus – the museum’s largest specimen.

imageMuseum members and educators received a sneak preview this week and many slowed to a halt in awe upon entering the epic hall.

Four lively children accompanied parents Marcus and Melody Tarver, who visit the museum every few months.

“I get to learn something too, especially the things that I didn’t learn at their age,” said Marcus Tarver, 26, who attended the museum on school field trips while he grew up in nearby Compton. “Now that I’m older I can appreciate it more.”

The museum is expecting huge crowds, so they’re suggesting you reserve your tickets online to avoid long waiting times. Admission is free for members and children under 5. Ticket prices are $5 for ages 5-12, $8 for ages 13-17, $9 for college students and $12 for adults. The free Tuesday program won’t be available in July and August, but will return in September. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.

Photos by Lisa Rau

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