The first encounter with Victoria the Tyrannosaurus Rex – the Arizona Science Center’s newest special attraction – lets visitors know that there is more to this experience than just looking at a large skeleton.
Before the bones are revealed, watch a 3-minute video introducing the dinosaur that inspired the exhibition, which runs through May 25th. You will wonder how Victoria lived, how she died, and what happened to her in the 66s, millions of years since she walked the earth.
Once inside, the first thing you see is the skeleton ambushed in a predatory pose that gives a sense of how imposing Victoria was in life.
And you can interact with the exhibit to see the world through Victoria’s eyes, smell it through her nose, and even create your own T. Rex and see it come to life.
Sari Custer, chief curiosity officer of the Arizona Science Center, said the center is excited to host the first stop on Victoria’s premier tour.
“We are very excited to bring such an impressive, unique example of a T. rex to Phoenix,” said Custer. “We’ve been told that people want more dinosaurs, so we’re bringing the dinosaurs.”
There are many bones
The Victoria skeleton, discovered near Faith, South Dakota in 2013, has been described as the second most complete T. rex skeleton ever discovered.
Heinrich Mallison, senior paleontologist at the Victoria Project, doesn’t like to talk about the “completeness” of the skeleton.
For example, if most of the exposed bones had been in the animal’s tail, or if they had been flattened or distorted after millions of years, the number of bones would not have brought much new knowledge.
The 199 fossilized bones that make up Victoria include parts of the skull, rib cage, limbs, and vertebrae that tell a story.
“We got a hell of a lot of her,” said Mallison. “And what we have is in good shape.”
The bones have been complemented with 3D printed material, which enables the presentation of a full skeleton of a dinosaur about 12 feet long and about 12 feet high.
Children can explore Victoria’s world
While the view of the skeleton is impressive, the interactive elements of the exhibition will stimulate the imagination, especially in children. Entertainment company IMG produced it with a sleek, engaging presentation.
Displays at child-friendly height let visitors smell things (water, forest, prey) and then compare this sensation with the way Victoria would have experienced these things.
You can customize a holographic T. rex based on the latest knowledge about how animals look, and then see it released into the environment on a big screen.
And you can feel approximations of what the dinosaur’s skin, teeth, and feathers might have felt like.
The final piece of the exhibition is a walk-in diorama that takes you through several phases of Victoria’s life. One scene shows the fight with another T. rex who is the likely cause of the wounds that could have led to her death. This scene isn’t particularly graphic or gory, but it involves two dinosaurs fighting.
5 things you should know about Victoria
These details are from the Arizona Science Center website:
- Victoria hatched about 66 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period.
- It is believed that she was a sub-adult between the ages of 18 and 25. She would have reached reproductive age, but not her full growth potential.
- It is estimated that she would have been 14 feet tall. Her chest indicates that she was particularly massive, weighing perhaps 10.5 tons.
- Victoria’s unusually complete skull is well preserved and contains several fragile palatal bones that are rarely found intact.
- One possible cause of death was a massive mouth infection from a severe lower jaw bite caused by another T. rex.
Victoria the T. rex
When: Until May 25th. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Arizona Science Center, 600 E. Washington St., Phoenix.
Tickets: $ 11.95 (free for ages 2 and under) on top of general admission: $ 18 ($ 13 for ages 3-17) online in advance and $ 19.95 / $ 14.95 at the box office.
Details: 602-716-2000, azscience.org/victoria.
You can reach the reporter at weldon.johnso[email protected]. Or follow him on Twitter @weldonjohnson.
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