Sunday, 7 October 2012

A visit to the National Dinosaur Museum

Just realised that I hadn't put up a post about my recent visit to the National Dinosaur Museum. This is a privately owned and run museum on the outskirts of Canberra, Australia. I had visited before, a long time ago, and all I could remember was a heap of animatronic dinosaurs. Happily there are many other things there than just big roaring replicas. Before writing this post I looked up the address on Google and read some of the reviews that people had left. They were quite negative and many people had rated it 0/3 which I personally think is a bit rough. The museum is not large, and despite being called 'national' it comes across more like someones labor of love than what most of us would consider a 'national museum'. That aside, I still had a very enjoyable morning going around the exhibits, got lots of great photos, had a chance to eyeball some nice bone replicas and check out the fossils on display. The one thing I will pick on is the spelling in some of the exhibit text. I am a self confessed grammar and spelling pedant, but lets face it, it isn't that difficult to spellcheck or proof read something before it becomes part of a display, this really detracts from the museum. If you are going to play at being a serious museum, then at least make it look professional and not like a school project. Ok, rant over.

The museum takes you on a journey, around the edges of a large room, through time. It depicts ideas on how the earth was created and then moves into the beginnings of life. Each geological era and period has a section, describing what the earth was like at that time, what sort of life existed, both plant and animal, including mass extinctions. As it moves into the Paleozoic and Mesozoic, and the expansion of archeosaurs, then pelacosaurs and dinosaurs, the exhibits have some larger replicas and specimens on display. A large sauropod vertebra and several humerus bones, not to mention a lovely replica of an ichthyosaur fossil and a rather beautiful (if you like that sort of thing) Velociraptor skull. There are also some fully articulated casts on display. A Stegosaur, a Plateosaurus, an Allosaur, a Ceratopsian and a few others. I also really loved the family tree posters around the museum, particularly the 'mammal-like reptiles' one. Not sure who produced them but wouldn't mind getting my mits on the whole series. The last part of the display deals with the evolution of hominids, and there is a cabinet containing a series of hominid skulls.

They also have a gift store that is packed with Dinosaur related items. I was very tempted by a Deinonychus claw fridge magnet, and they had 50% off skulls, but I found it a bit hard to justify the price of these even discounted (yes, I am a cheapskate). There were a few fossils for sale, but I prefer collecting my own to buying others specimens, so I passed these by also.

Naturally I took lots of pictures:

Skull of the Sauropod Camarosaurus

Skull of the Ceratopsian Anchiceratops

Deinonychus foot

Hominid Skulls

Representation of the Aussie Dino Leaellynasaurus


It's a shame this poster came out blurry, it's a ripper

Sauropod Dystylosaurus Vertebra

Palaeo-art of T-Rex

Skull of Velociraptor mongoliensis

Allosaur skull
A Stegosaur Thagomizer
The Ichthyosaur Stenopterygius
Appears I have a bit of thing for skulls, well I guess this is the business end of most Dinosaurs! So as you can see, not just Dinosaurs, plenty of other prehistoric critters. Considering this is all privately run I think it's pretty good, and worth a visit for all Dino-enthusiasts.

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