A Paleontologist's Dream

Perot Museum doubles down on dinosaurs with gargantuan new exhibit

Perot Museum doubles down on dinosaurs with gargantuan new exhibit

The World's Largest Dinosaurs
The World's Largest Dinosaurs will be on display at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science through September 1. Photo courtesy of AMNH/D. Finnin
The World's Largest Dinosaurs at the Perot Museum
A video showing the Mamenchisaurus' internal organs plays on the side of the dinosaur itself. Photo by Alex Bentley
The World's Largest Dinosaurs at the Perot Museum
A light display helps explain the pulmonary and vascular system of sauropods. Photo by Alex Bentley
The World's Largest Dinosaurs
The World's Largest Dinosaurs at the Perot Museum
The World's Largest Dinosaurs at the Perot Museum

In the 16 months it has been open, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science has welcomed in special exhibits about the museum itself, recycling and the inner workings of animals.

Its latest, "The World's Largest Dinosaurs," expands on the museum's existing dinosaur material to give more information about the largest dinosaurs to walk the Earth: sauropods. The exhibition is dominated by a 60-foot-long reproduction of a Mamenchisaurus, a sauropod that was first discovered in China.

The Mamenchisaurus actually pulls double duty in the exhibit, with one side showing the dinosaur's skin and the other side featuring different displays of its skeleton, blood vessels and organs. A short repeating video shown on the side of the dinosaur details how its heart and lungs were able to power the enormous creature, something that's re-created in another nearby lighted display.

The rest of the exhibit doles out constant comparisons between dinosaurs and other animals to get a sense of scale and evolution, along with mentions of other types of sauropods like the Argentinosaurus, Camarasaurus and Apatosaurus.

As with everywhere else in the Perot Museum, there are plenty of interactive activities. These include two pumps that compare the ease or difficulty in pumping blood in animals of different sizes; lifting huge vertebrae to test their weight; comparing the size of your own femur to that of a dinosaur; and a sand table where kids can dig for fossils.

If nothing else, the exhibit proves how flexible the lower-level Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones Exhibition Hall can be. The different exhibits that have been there have required vastly different arrangements, and the hall handled each with ease.

The T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall, which houses skeletons of various dinosaurs, among other things, is one of the museum's most popular areas, so officials expect that visitors will flock to this special exhibit as well.

The exhibit will be open to members only April 3-5; it will open to the general public on April 6. Staying through September 1, 2014, it requires an extra fee of $3-$6 depending on your age and membership status.