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Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies Opens Sept. 30

This looks like a great trip for the whole family and starts at the end of this month!

Take a rare and exciting look at the life of dinosaurs through their eggs, nests and embryos in Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies opening Saturday, Sept. 30 at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

 

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Take a rare look at dinosaurs through their eggs, nest and a “petting zoo” in Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies, Sept. 30, 2017–Jan. 15, 2018.
Credit: Florence Magovern

 

Tiny Titans, presented in both Spanish and English, showcases an amazing array of authentic fossilized dinosaur eggs and nests collected from around the world, including those of each of the major plant- and meat-eating dinosaur groups. Visitors will learn of recent discoveries about dinosaur reproduction and behavior and about the fascinating people and science behind these discoveries.

 

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Real dinosaur eggs collected from different parts of the world and rich wall panels in Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies.
Credit: Florence Magovern

 

A captivating experience for children and adults, Tiny Titans invites visitors to:

  • Touch a real dinosaur bone and cast nests, one more than eight feet in diameter.
  • Dig for dinosaur eggs in interactive dig pits.
  • Dress up and be a dinosaur parent protecting its nest of eggs.
  • Get up close with exciting lifelike models of embryos and hatchlings.
  • View stunning murals and videos featuring prominent dinosaur experts.

 

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Kids dress up as their favorite dinosaur in Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies, Sept. 30-Jan. 15, 2018.
Credit: Luis V. Rey

 

Tiny Titans will be on view at Philadelphia’s dinosaur museum through Monday, Jan. 15.

For the opening weekend, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, visitors will be treated to shows and gallery encounters with the Academy’s live birds and reptiles. That’s because birds and reptiles are the dinosaurs’ closest relatives. Rosebud, the Therapy Chicken (she has her own Facebook page!) will demonstrate how she  brings comfort to those in need at schools, nursing homes and rehab centers.

On both Saturday and Sunday, visitors also will be able to touch fossilized dinosaur egg fragments, walk on eggshells, and make a dinosaur egg to take home.

 

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Beautiful realistic dinosaur murals and a baby dinosaur to pet bring the creatures to life in Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies.
Credit: Florence Magovern

 

“There is no experience as magical as touching a dinosaur egg,” said Jennifer Sontchi, senior director of exhibits and public spaces. “Imagine the baby dinosaur that hatched from it millions of years ago!”

Tiny Titans gives credence to what is now widely accepted among scientists: that dinosaurs and birds are closely related. Each science-rich section is enhanced with lifelike models of embryos and hatchlings and colorful illustrations of dinosaur families.

 

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Rock sliced open to reveal 11 theropod eggs, most likely Oviraptor and most likely laid in pairs. Scientists aren’t sure why the one pair is smaller than the others.
Credit: Florence Magovern

 

The collection of real fossils includes an authentic bowling ball-size egg of a sauropod from Argentina that was laid by a long-necked, plant-eating titanosaur that lived 75 million years ago. Visitors also will see a large cluster of eggs laid by a duck-billed, plant-eating dinosaur, and the longest dinosaur eggs ever discovered—almost 18 inches long—laid by a new giant species of Oviraptor, a carnivorous, ostrich-like dinosaur.

A central feature of the multi-media experience is a presentation about the discovery of “Baby Louie,” the nearly complete skeleton of a dinosaur embryo with its bones aligned in the proper position. The embryo, discovered in China in 1993, was nicknamed “Baby Louie” after photojournalist Louie Psihoyos who photographed it for National Geographic. In May 2017 it finally received an official name with the publication of a study in the journal Nature Communications: Beibeilong sinensis, or “baby dragon from China.”

Some of the real dinosaur eggs featured in that May 1996 issue will also be on display in this exhibit.

Tiny Titans was organized in association with the Harvard Museum of Natural History, The University of Tennessee, and the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. For discount tickets, visit ansp.org.

 

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A group of Psittacosaur cast skeletons, five juveniles with an adult.
Credit: Florence Magovern

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See the Fossils, Meet the Scientists Who Discovered the Newest Supermassive Dinosaur Dreadnoughtus Day, Sept. 20, at the Academy of Natural Sciences

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PHILADELPHIA (September 11, 2014) — The public will have the chance to meet members of the team that discovered a recently unveiled 65-ton supermassive dinosaur and see some of its fossils for one day only at Dreadnoughtus Day, Saturday, Sept. 20, at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

 

On hand will be Drexel University paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara, PhD, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, who led the team that discovered Dreadnoughtus schrani, and Academy Dinosaur Hall Manager and paleoartist Jason Poole, who was on the team that unearthed the exceptionally complete skeleton of the sauropod dinosaur in Argentina between 2005 and 2009.

 

Lacovara will give an illustrated presentation about the discovery at 11 a.m. and will be available to talk with museum visitors. Poole will give a presentation at 2:30 p.m. and discuss how some of the Dreadnoughtus fossils were prepared for study in the Fossil Prep Lab in Dinosaur Hall. He also will be on hand to answer questions.

 

Several fossils from the massive plant-eater will be on view at the Science Live area throughout the day. Visitors will be able to touch real fossils, do experiments, and more to learn about sauropods, titanosaurs and how paleontologists find fossils. Dreadnoughtus Day is free with regular museum admission. On Saturday, Sept. 20, the museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Dreadnoughtus schrani is the most complete skeleton of its type ever found. At 85 feet long and weighing about 65 tons in life, the dinosaur is the largest land animal for which a body mass can be accurately calculated. Its skeleton is exceptionally complete, with over 70 percent of the bones, excluding the head, represented. Because all previously discovered supermassive dinosaurs are known only from relatively fragmentary remains, Dreadnoughtus offers an unprecedented window into the anatomy and biomechanics of the largest animals to ever walk the Earth. Lacovara and colleagues published the detailed description of their discovery Sept. 4 in the journal Scientific Reports from the Nature Publishing Group.

 

For more information about Dreadnoughtus schrani, visit http://drexe.lu/dreadnoughtus.

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Indulge in Chocolate: The Exhibition, a Mouth-Watering Experience That Opens Oct. 11 at the Academy of Natural Sciences

Indulge in Chocolate: The Exhibition, a Mouth-Watering Experience That Opens Oct. 11 at the Academy of Natural Sciences

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PHILADELPHIA (September 2, 2014) — A unique tropical tree. A seed so precious it was used as money. A spicy drink and a sweet snack. A multi-billion-dollar worldwide business. Chocolate is all this and much more. Indulge in the sumptuous world of chocolate starting Saturday, Oct. 11, when Chocolate: The Exhibition, opens at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

Chocolate traces the intriguing story of this “food of the gods” from its origin as a unique tropical rain forest plant, to the Aztecs who used cacao seeds as currency, to the Spanish who added sugar and transformed the bitter drink of kings, to the sensuous sweet millions of people crave today. Chocolate brings to life the rich history and wide impact the treat has had across the globe. It’s a sweet experience that engages all the senses and reveals facets of chocolate most people have never thought about before.

On view from Oct. 11 through Jan. 24, 2015, Chocolate is presented in both Spanish and English. There is a $5 fee to enter the exhibit in addition to regular museum admission. Visit the Academy’s website, ansp.org, for details about opening weekend festivities including chocolate foods and crafts presented with the Mexican Cultural Center to celebrate Hispanic Cultural Weekend.

Visitors to Chocolate: The Exhibition will explore the plant, the products, the history, and the culture of chocolate through the lenses of botany and ecology, anthropology and economics, conservation and popular culture. Visitors can:

  • Stand beneath a cacao tree in a lush rain forest replica and examine cacao seed pods up close.
  • Engage with animated modern-day machinery that turns cacao from seed to sweet, solid bar.
  • Follow a cacao harvest on a Mexican plantation and cacao’s preparation for market.
  • Barter cacao seeds for goods in an Aztec market and learn about Quetzalcoatl, the god who brought the sacred source of chocolate to the Aztec.
  • Interpret glyphs on a royal Maya pot and see archaeological vessels that once held the drink of kings.
  • Admire beautiful porcelain and silver chocolate services from Europe.

 

“Chocolate: The Exhibition will change the way you enjoy chocolate,” said Director of Exhibits Jennifer Sontchi. “The fun of the exhibit is that afterwards, every bite of chocolate you taste is richer for what you learned about it here.”

The plant and the midge

Philadelphia has played a key role in the chocolate industry for more than 200 years and remains an important port for shipments of cacao and other ingredients used to make chocolate products. “The cuisine culture of Philly is one of the things that sets it apart, and numerous major chocolate companies are based in this region,” said Mary Bailey, special exhibits educator.

Bailey and her team will augment the exhibit with mobile “touch carts” bearing teaching treasures including a real cacao pod, monkey fur, puff balls, chocolate midges, snake skin, an okapi skull, and easy-to-digest information about the rainforests where cacao plants grow. Fall marks the debut of a new type of educational cart for engaging visitors, one that Bailey calls the tech cart.

“It has a digital screen where we can show magnified images, so groups of people can see dissections of flowers, fruits and pods and even look at the cells of an onion skin,” Bailey said.

Visitors also will see up close a very tiny insect, a midge, on which the $50 billion-a-year chocolate industry depends. It’s a fly that closely resembles a mosquito, and many scientists believe it is the only creature that pollinates the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao. Without the midge, there would be no cacao plant.

Theobroma cacao has been the basis of a globalized industry for almost 500 years, yet we still know remarkably little about its pollination,” said Academy Curator of Botany Tatyana Livshultz, who studies pollination. “The first pollination study on wild plants was published only last year. Under cultivation, fruit set in T. cacao is pollination limited, so optimizing pollination can have a major impact on the global supply of cacao.”

Another interesting aspect is that cacao is different from many other trees. It grows in the shade of larger trees in tropical regions of Central America, South America, Africa and Asia. It is relatively short—30–40 feet tall—and has lovely, delicate flowers that grow directly on the trunk and lower branches, where the low-flying midges can reach them.

A look back in time

Today chocolate is known primarily as a candy or sweet dessert, mass-produced or cooked up in mom’s kitchen.  But it wasn’t always so.

 

The ancient Maya of Mexico and Central America (200–900 C.E.) knew it as a frothy, spicy drink, made from the seeds of the cacao tree and used in royal and religious ceremonies. The Aztec, between the 13th and 16th centuries, used the cacao seeds as money, and the chocolate drink was reserved for warriors and nobility for use in rituals and ceremonies. In the 16th century, the Spanish mixed sugar into the drink, and, almost a century later, the first English chocolate house opened.

 

Chocolate: The Exhibition fills in the sordid, the fascinating and the fun details of chocolate, including stories involving slavery, World War II and myths about chocolate’s amorous effects. Complementing the exhibit, the Academy will present daily showings of Modern Marvels videos about chocolate, as well as special chocolate tastings and weekend programs.

 

Chocolate and its national tour were developed by The Field Museum, Chicago. This exhibition was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation. 6ABC is the Academy’s media partner.