Antarctic Dinosaurs Give Chicago the Chills!

While Chicago’s beloved Tyrannosaurus Rex, Sue, prepares for her illustrious return next spring, the Field Museum of Natural History has gone above and beyond making sure us dinosaur fans stay committed. It began with the arrival of “Maximo,” a full-size cast of Patagotitan mayorum – the largest land animal ever discovered. Old Max has done a stellar job filling the spot once occupied by Sue in the museum’s immense Stanley Field Hall. He’s joined by some amazing flying reptiles (which I’ll be covering soon) and a special, temporary exhibit called “Antarctic Dinosaurs.” This often overlooked region for dinosaur discovery has produced some incredible finds, including prehistoric animals exclusive to the region. This exhibit not only highlights those creatures but the brave men and women who helped bring them to light – including some who paid with their lives.  

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PAPO’s 2016 Feathered Velociraptor Dressed to Kill!

There’s always a bit of excitement when model companies announce their prehistoric offerings for the coming year. Starting in November, many of us methodically check their websites while making room on our shelves for the ones we just know we’re gonna get. One such figure was the PAPO’s 2016 feathered velociraptor. I’d already had a couple of their previous raptors which looked as if they’d just walked off the set of JURASSIC PARK (sorry, Hasbro, PAPO does JURASSIC PARK better than you do). This new feathered addition, however, was a completely new take and a welcomed one at that. It was about a full year later when I was finally able to add this to my collection, but definitely worth the wait! Continue reading

Fredosaurus Rex – Won’t you eat, my neighbor?

Mr. Rogers Neighborhood has gotten a surge of popularity these days thanks to the critically acclaimed, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?.  The documentary film chronicles the life of Fred Rogers whom many of us middle-agers remember as the soft-spoken guy routinely changing his shoes before taking us to “The Land of Make-Believe.” Long before there were 24-hour kids’ programming, PBS was about the only weekday respite from soap operas and game shows. Knowing we were a captive audience until the big networks’ rolled out their Saturday morning cartoons, PBS used this as an opportunity to teach us a thing or two. My favorite episode was when Margaret Hamilton a.k.a. The Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of West paid a visit. I was scared to death of her as a kid and her presence on the show eased my anxieties a lot. I also vividly remember when that Purple Panda showed up and, come to think of it, what the heck was that thing anyway? By now you’re all probably wondering what any of this has to do with dinosaurs. Well, it seems that Fred’s native Pittsburgh has a rather unique tribute to “Mr. Rogers” – one where he’s reimagined as a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

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Milwaukee Zoo’s “Jurassic Journey” Dinosaur Exhibit!

 

Many zoos around the country offer guests a chance to see prehistoric animals alongside their living ones. This is thanks to the skilled craftsman and animatronic wizards of several companies including Billings Productions, Inc. who offer their clients a selection of over three hundred different prehistoric animals to choose from. As of this date, I’ve seen robotic dinosaurs at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo, the North Carolina Zoo, Franklin Park Zoo in New England, and a few in Milwaukee. Although I love Natural history museums and their collection of fossils, these life-like representations are a great way to envision yourself standing before living ones. The Milwaukee County Zoo is about two hours north of me and I make a point to visit them at least twice a year. It’s a decent sized park with elephants, bears, and a large collection of big cats so never disappoints. They’ve featured dinosaurs and even giant bugs every couple years or so, though always with a different selection. The cost is $3 per person (in addition to their regular admission fees) and well worth it!

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Illinois’ Dryptosaurus Stalks Lake County Museum

Due to erosion, fossils from the Mesozoic Era are largely missing from my native Illinois. Despite no dinosaur discoveries, Paleontologists are still pretty sure they were here – reinforced by species of the same dinos found above and below us. One of these is a theropod called Dryptosaurus; a dinosaur I’d never heard of until last week after receiving my monthly newsletter from national horror host, Svengoolie. In it, the man who designed a gorgeous replica of the animal was posing next to it at a museum I’d never heard of despite being just an hour north of me. It was time for another Prehistoric Pit Stop…

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“Sailed” Away by Safari Ltd.’s New Dimetrodon!

 As a kid, I remember playing “dinosaurs” with numerous Marx Dimetrodons – having no idea the animal wasn’t a dinosaur at all. This creature, notable for the large sail on its back, is actually a member of the synapsid family; a group of reptiles that lived over 270 million years ago and attributed to having mammal-like features. Though there’ been numerous models of the animal since, Safari Ltd. has just delivered one of the best!

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What are the Cincinnati Mammoths? (Hint: it’s not a sports team)

Before heading back to Chicago, my family and I stayed overnight in Cincinnati so we could visit their amazing zoo and say ‘hello’ to their celebrated hippo, Fiona. With a few minutes to kill before the zoo opened, we took a quick Prehistoric Pit Stop to an industrial section of the city to see a family of woolly mammoths. These beautiful, lifelike statues proudly stood in front of the city’s Natural History Museum before the building shut down and the museum moved to a new center in 1990. The mammoths were built in 1980 by artist, Neal Deaton.   

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