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GSU museum goes jurrasic

Exhibit gives taste of prehistoric life

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POSTED: August 8, 2013 10:29 a.m.
Photo by Scott Bryant/

Tonya Boys of Bloomingdale learns about dinosaur teeth during a visit to the "Life as a Dinosaur" exhibit at the Georgia Southern University Museum.

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    A land before time, with mysterious and extinct creatures that have long captivated science and popular culture, is now within reach at Georgia Southern University.
    An exhibit at the college’s museum, located on Sweetheart Circle, opens a window into the age of the dinosaurs and provides visitors with an idea of how life functioned more than 65 million years ago. 
    The interactive “Life as a Dinosaur” exhibit, which runs through January, is hoping to enlighten individuals’ understanding of the prehistoric world and use recent research to lay to rest many common misconceptions about dinosaurs. 
    “The idea is to focus on how dinosaurs truly lived,” said Dr. Katy Smith, co-curator of the exhibit and a GSU geology professor. “Rather than the usual museum experience of simply viewing a skeleton, we really wanted to focus on what the animals looked like with their flesh on — and how they acted. One of our goals is to show the diversity in behaviors, physiology and appearances in dinosaurs.” 
    Visitors to the museum can take a hands-on tour to discover what it was like to begin life as a small egg and develop into one of the largest animals to ever walk on land, Smith said. 
    Guests may hold casts of dinosaur eggs, not much larger than those of an ostrich, while staring up at a life-size representation of a sauropod (the largest of dinosaur families) painted on the museum wall — or what will fit of the animal, anyway. 
    They can also walk, literally, in the footsteps of the ancient beasts, following true-to-scale prints on the exhibit floor. 
    “As a kid, you can actually see that your stride is probably half the stride of a velociraptor, and maybe you and three siblings can all sit within one sauropod track,” Smith said.
    Visitors can check out dinosaur teeth, play a re-created animal vocalization over loud speakers — making you feel as though you’ve just entered Jurassic Park —  and even dress up as a dinosaur using various puppet pieces of armored tails, back plates and a bony hood.
    “The interactive, hands-on aspects have been very popular among adults and children,” Smith said. “We’ve seen kids spend their entire time here playing at one station. But even if they’re just playing in one area, they’re learning something. Also, we had a group of teachers come in, and the first thing they did was go throw on the dino costumes.”
    Lining the walls of the exhibit are informational posters that track the evolutionary history of dinosaurs and outline evidence that proves the animals to be warm-blooded — contrary to the popular opinion in earlier decades — and closely related to modern-day birds. 
    Since many dinosaurs were feathered, and likely as vibrantly colored as modern birds, there is a coloring station set up for children to design their own imagined dinosaur. 
    “Hopefully, people see something or learn something a little bit different and new,” said Brent Tharp, the director of the museum. “You just can’t go wrong with dinosaurs. It is a fun, popular topic, and so is this exhibit.” 
    People may view the display anytime during standard museum hours. 
    The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 2–5 p.m. on the weekends. 
    Admission is $2 per person, and children 3 years old or younger enter for free. 
    For more information, individuals can contact the museum by calling (912) 478-5444.

 

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