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home : columns : columns April 18, 2015


6/25/2013 12:20:00 PM
The dinosaurs are back!
By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

Dinosaurs may have been blasted into extinction or starved to death some 70 million years ago, but in every kid's imagination they're still with us, and capable of making life more exciting than homework - or even computer games.

The High Desert Museum's new exhibit - "Be the Dinosaur: Life in the Cretaceous" - has combined interactive video simulations with traditional displays and fossil specimens in a dramatic exhibit that will breath life into the Age of the Dinosaur, and answers these common questions...

• What was it like to be a Dinosaur?

What did they do all day?

What did their habitats look like?

• What did they eat?

• What colors were they?

The museum, in collaboration with Eureka Exhibits, Paleo Lands Institute, University of Oregon, and sponsored by BendBroadband with support from James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, is presenting this extraordinary exhibit that runs through September 15 - including a replicated T-Rex skull, along with allosaurus and mosasaur

fossils.

With rock formations and fossils as their only clues, paleontologists have pieced together a clear picture of the species, climate, ecosystems, habitats, behavior and ecology of prehistoric plant and animal communities of the Cretaceous Period. These same tools will be available to young paleontologists who come to the museum and get involved with the interactive displays.

The Cretaceous (145.5 to 65.5 million years ago), was the last age of the dinosaurs. With the appearance of modern insects, mammals, birds, and flowering plants, it is considered the turning point between extinct prehistoric life and the modern plant and animal

communities.

This time period is also known for its extraordinary marine life. Sea levels were higher during most of the Cretaceous than any other period on Earth's history. Large areas of North America were underwater, including most of modern Oregon.

Roaming these prehistoric marine environments were the lions and tigers of the sea. These extinct predators included the ichthyosaur, mosasaur, and plesiosaur - large finned reptiles with formidable teeth. In fact, ichthyosaur and plesiosaur specimens have been found in the Cretaceous rock formations in Central Oregon, and in Nevada there is a state park named for the abundant ichthyosaur fossils found there.

Ichthyosaurs (Greek for "fish lizard") were marine reptiles seven to 13 feet in length, resembling dolphins. They thrived during much of the Mesozoic era, some 245 million years ago, and at least one species survived until about 90 million years ago, into the early Cretaceous. They are found today as fossils at a quarry near

Mitchell.

The High Desert Museum will be displaying fossil specimens of these extraordinary marine reptiles in conjunction with terrestrial dinosaur specimens. Visitors will leave with a vivid impression of the diversity of life on land and at sea in the

Cretaceous.

Under the heading of Unsolicited Advice: Plan ahead to leave plenty of time, because you're going to have to drag your kids away from the interactive dinosaur exhibits!









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