Animatronicus rex!

Another week, another intriguing discovery from the period known as the past! My father was looking through a box of old photos recently, when he came across something I’d (somewhat) forgotten about – a trip we took to a travelling dinosaur exhibit at the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT, in Auckland),
around – I think – 1992. And these weren’t simply fossils or mounted skeletons, no sir: they were big, scary animatronic dinosaurs with the roaring and the stomping and the nifty scenic backdrops! Hence the reason they were at a transport and technology museum, I guess….

Dino 1
My favourite Jurassic friend, the plated herbivore Stegosaurus stenops; accompanied (at far left) by her bouncing baby boy. What I particularly love about this dinosaur – apart from how utterly bizarre it looks – is that the paired spines on its tail (called a Thagomiser) gets it name from a Gary Larson comic!

Dino 2
No, not a Triceratops – it’s one of his earlier relatives, the spiky-frilled Chasmosaurus belli from late Cretaceous North America (around 75 million years ago, people). And aiming to start a Harryhausen-class dinosaur battle….

Dino 3
…. Is the 30-foot (9 metre) Albertosaurus sarcophagus, also from the late Cretaceous; and the third-cousin-twice-removed of Tyrannosaurus rex. He comes equipped with a stylist pair of brow horns, surely the du rigeur fashion item for any Mesozoic predator!

Dino 4
Thanks to the Jurassic Park series, you might recognise these fellows more now than when this exhibition was on – they are prime examples of the head bangin’ Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis, all geared up for a mating season jousting contest. Play nice, lads….

Dino 5
Yup, dat’s me! While touring the prehistoric petting zoo, my (rather over-exposed) younger self had his photo taken in front of another rather famous Cretaceous herbivore – Maiasaura peeblesorum, the famous ‘Good Mother Lizard’. This hadrosaur had nesting grounds in what is now Montana, as shown by hundreds of fossilised nests, eggs, hatchlings, juveniles and bones of adults discovered in the 1970’s. Look at dem wittle babies!

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