Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Therizinosaur exhibit in Flagstaff

The therizinosaur exhibit at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff blends dinosaur skeletons [right, with curator Dave Gillette], a true-to-life recreation of the Tropic Shale quarry, videos, and an innovative use of digital photo frames to show stop-action geologic history of the region. There is even a very cool robot plesiosaur [below].

Dave says they debated the exhibit intensely and decided to tell a complex and intriguing about how a land-living dinosaur ended up in the bottom of a shallow ocean, 60 miles from shore. Instead of following the advice of many to keep the narrative at the 4th grade level, the exhibit challenges the viewer. It's worth the drive.

I'll also let you in on a something you 're unlikely to see at the Museum unless you know to look for it. A few feet north of the entrance off the highway, there is a steel pteranodon with a 14 foot wingspan, mounted on a twenty foot pole, surrounded by a flock of the Cretaceous equivalent of seagulls, but with teeth! Almost no one spots the sculpture because it blends into the pine trees around it.

Dave jokes that he encourages birders to come and add these Mesozoic birds to their spotting list.

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