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‘Dinosaurs: Fossils Exposed’ exhibit opens Saturday

Scott Liles BaxterBulletin | USA TODAY NETWORK

Thedinosaurs have arrived in Mountain Home.

Dinosaurs:Fossils Exposed, a traveling exhibit from the Arkansas Museum of Discovery,will officially open Saturday at the Donald W. Reynolds Library Serving BaxterCounty and continue through the end of April. The program features sixfull-scale replicas of dinosaur skeletons, and library visitors can also viewand interact with replicas of dinosaur skulls, limbs, eggs and footprints.

Thelibrary will also host a slew of special dinosaur-related activities onSaturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. as part of the exhibit’s grand opening.

The items on display inthe exhibit are made of resin, allowing visitors to touch them.

“Withthese exhibits, you’re not just reading about them cognitively in a book,”reference librarian Vincent Anderson said. “To be able to touch the items andsee how big some of them are, it makes a difference.”

Visitorscan pick the teeth of a large tyrannosaurus rex skull on display in thelibrary’s foyer, or stick their heads inside the gaping maw of anedmontosaurus, a large duck-billed herbivore.

Exploringthe skull of an allosaurus — one of several dinosaurs native to North Americaon display at the exhibit — a visitor can’t help but run their fingers over thecurved and pointed teeth, the perfect weapon for the automobilesized meat-eater.

The6-foot tall femur bone of an apatosaurus — the 40-ton plant-eater formerlyknown as the brontosaurus — stands upright, challenging visitors to see howthey measure up.

“Justimagine how much vegetation it would take to keep that engine running,” Andersonsaid, resting a forearm against the giant apatosaurus leg bone.

A21-and-a-half-foot triceratops skeleton is the exhibit’s single largest item.The horned skull alone weighs 250 pounds, and the triceratops on display isdescribed as a young adult probably weighing 2,700 pounds; a fully mature adultcould weigh up to 7,000 pounds.

“Thetriceratops is going to be a big hit with the kids,” library director Kim CrowSheaner said. “We’ve had kids walk in, see it and start squealing, ‘It’s atriceratops!’ ” The display base of the triceratops bears stencils that say“Fragile” and “Do not touch,” but Crow Sheaner said those were for dramaticflavor.

“Visitorsare more than welcome to touch and explore the exhibits,” she said. “With theitems being resin and not actual fossils, you can be much more hands-on withthem. They told us, if anything breaks, just save it and they will fix itlater.”

Thelibrary’s exhibit also includes a life-sized skeleton of a velociraptor, thecarnivorous dinosaur featured in the 1993 movie “Jurassic Park.” Actualvelociraptors were slightly over 2 feet tall and weighed about 40 pounds, whilethe ones on the silver screen were depicted as being man-sized orslightly larger.

“Theydidn’t get that part right in the movie,” Anderson said.

Onething Hollywood did get right on the velociraptor was its sickle-like claws andthe wide, jagged teeth the carnivore used to quickly kill its prey. Thelibrary’s velociraptor bears the name “Frankie” — short for Frankenstein —because it was pieced together from five incomplete skeletons.

Dino D-Day

Thelibrary’s dinosaur exhibit officially opens on Saturday, but visitors this pastweek have been catching sneak peeks of the dinosaurs as they were assembled andmoved into position.

Libraryofficials estimate that library attendance had increased 30 percent the pastweek from people getting a head start on seeing the exhibit.

“Dinosaursbring out new and different people to the library,” Crow Sheaner said. “We’regetting a lot of dads in the library. We already had a lot of dads who wouldvisit, but this is drawing them in.”

Thelibrary will also host numerous school tours in coming months, allowing many ofthe Twin Lakes Area’s school children to get up close with the dinosaurs.

Thelibrary also offers visitors the chance to dig up dinosaur bones in a paleontologydig box downstairs in the children’s section, or go on a geocaching adventureacross the library grounds. Some of Saturday’s opening-day activities includedoodling a dinosaur with a 3D printer pen, creating dinosaur noodle art andposing for pictures with TJ the T-Rex.

Dinosaurs:Fossils Exposed was available to the library through its affiliation with theMuseum of Discovery’s Discovery Network, a statewide program of making hands-onlearning more accessible to the state’s school children and their families. Theexhibit is co-sponsored by the Baxter County Library Foundation and Friends ofthe Library.

CrowSheaner said that the Donald W. Reynolds Library is the first library to hostthe exhibit, which had previously been displayed at several Arkansas museums.The library’s goal is to acquire at least one exhibit a year, she said.

“Wehad a choice of several exhibits, and when I presented the idea of dinosaurs tothe staff, it was an overwhelming yes,” Crow Sheaner said.


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