Children checking out the animatronic dinosaur at the Cox Science Center exhibit "Dinosaur Explorer."
Photo by the Cox Science Center and Aquarium
Many have wondered what it would be like to live among dinosaurs and perhaps to be up close to the nonthreatening, non-meat-eating herbivores among them.
At Cox Science Center and Aquarium in West Palm Beach, people of all ages can come as close as possible to finding out. Its “Dinosaur Explorer” exhibit, which opened Sept. 15, features animatronic dinosaurs from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
“It’s been extremely successful and very well-attended,” says Genevieve Nye, the director of marketing for Cox Science Center and Aquarium. “It’s a great exhibit and a lot of fun. All the dinosaurs are animatronic, meaning they’re like living, breathing, moving dinosaurs. There are sensors as you walk by them, so they start moving and making noises. It’s what paleontologists thought they were like back then.”
Sponsored by the Cox Science Center and Aquarium.
The exhibit is a valuable learning tool. In addition to showing how dinosaurs are linked genetically to birds, the interactive displays show the characteristics that paleontologists believe humans share with these extinct creatures, including environmental, biological and behavioral factors such as feeding, intelligence, families and interpersonal relationships.
“The exhibit explores many aspects of how dinosaurs lived, including how their family dynamics relate to how we live as humans,” Nye says. “And some will not be what we might traditionally expect. A lot of them have feathers. A lot of studies have shown that they weren’t necessarily cold-blooded, like previously thought, but warm-blooded like us.”
“Dinosaur Explorer’s” authentic, larger-than-life animatronic replications give visitors opportunities to interact and learn.
The exhibit goes well beyond famous species like Tyrannosaurus rex, which is featured in the “Jurassic Park” film series. Its wide variety of dinosaurs from various eras is eye-opening.
“We have everything from the carnivores to the herbivores and everything in between,” Nye says. “And I’d say the majority are dinosaurs that some people may have never heard of before. There will be the classic T. rex, brontosaurus, stegosaurus and velociraptor, but many others that were smaller and different than previously thought.”
Dinosaurs are always a big hit for the center, which is the second facility to host “Dinosaur Explorer,” Nye says. The exhibit also includes a dig pit for children, opportunities to draw a dinosaur and watch it become animated after scanning and a camera that changes your face to a dinosaur's as you walk through.
Opening as the South Florida Science Museum in 1961, the Cox Science Center features a salt-and-fresh-water aquarium, planetarium, theater, student science project showcase, science trails, a miniature golf conservation course, early childhood education room and permanent “River of Grass” Everglades exhibit. The price of admission covers all exhibitions and activities.
“Dinosaur Explorer” runs through April 30 at the Cox Science Center and Aquarium, 4801 Dreher Trail North, West Palm Beach (561-832-1988). Admission is $20.95 for adults, $18.95 for seniors 60 and older, $16.95 for children ages 3 to 12, and free to members and children under 3. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more. For further information, visit www.coxsciencecenter.org.