Sunday, October 18, 2009

PRE-HISTORIC CREATURES TO INVADE THE MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN


Experience “DinoQuest: A Tropical Trek Through Time,” May 1 through Oct. 3, 2010

WHAT: “DinoQuest: A Tropical Trek through Time” dinosaur exhibition
WHEN: May 1 through Oct. 3, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
WHERE: Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Blvd., south St. Louis
COST: Exhibit admission: $5 adults, $3 children (3-12), in addition to Garden admission.
Garden admission: $8 adults, $4 St. Louis City/County residents, free children.
INFO: www.mobot.org/dinoquest; (314) 577-9400, 1 (800) 642-8842 toll free recorded info


(ST. LOUIS): The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis is marking the golden anniversary of one of its most popular attractions, the Climatron®, by transporting visitors back in time to the golden age of dinosaurs. Feel the thrill of encountering a hulking Placerias, bird-like Bambiraptor or soaring Sordes in an unparalleled environment: hidden in the heart of a thriving tropical rain forest. Witness dozens of these realistic, pre-historic creatures when “DinoQuest: A Tropical Trek Through Time” debuts at the Missouri Botanical Garden in 2010.

Since 1960, the Climatron has easily been one of the most recognizable features at the Garden, noted as the first geodesic dome to be used as a plant conservatory. Inside, lush green foliage, cascading waterfalls and a warm, humid climate simulate an authentic jungle atmosphere.

“This exhibition provides a perfect introduction to the history of life on earth, extinction, and survival. How we manage our resources will have a major effect on the future of life, and there are many lessons to be learned from the past,” said Dr. Peter Raven, president of the Missouri Botanical Garden. “In addition to the educational value, there is also a real sense of excitement in experiencing these lifelike creatures in such an awe-inspiring setting. We hope it will evoke wonder, imagination and intrigue in visitors of all ages.”

On the “trek through time,” visitors of all ages will experience life in a tropical forest long ago, today and tomorrow. A smooth pathway winds through the 24,000-square-foot Climatron conservatory, where more than a dozen installations depict dinosaurs and reptiles from the Cretaceous, Jurassic, Triassic and Permian periods “frozen in time” amid the living flora. Encounter hungry herbivores, including a pair of toothy Heterodontosaurus and an eight-foot-long,bulky-bodied Placerias. Spot a flock of bird-like Bambiraptors hovering beneath green cycads, keeping watch over nests brimming with eggs. Identify a large Dimetrodon by the finned “sail” along its spine, or the three-foot-long Rhamphorynchus by its fur-covered wings.

Postosuchus, a pre-dinosaur age predator of Placerias, hides atop a cliff near a bamboo grove, while a hungry Syntarsus lurks beneath a large tree. See the Compsognathus tend to their nests near the basin of a waterfall as a trio of vigilant Oviraptors keep watch over their nests of offspring near a shallow pool.

Look up to find three hairy Sordes, ready to take flight from their perches in the trees. Two Quetzalcoatlus babies, also flying reptiles, huddle in their nest above a tank of fish, while their 30-foot-long parent flies high inside the neighboring Shoenberg Temperate House, a conservatory adjacent to the Climatron.

Outside on Garden grounds, a 30-foot-long, duck-billed Parasaurolophus nurtures its three young. A 32-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus rex can scarcely go unnoticed as it towers above the surrounding flora. On public display for the first time, a 30-foot-long pregnant Hypsibema, the Missouri state dinosaur, watches over its nest and greets visitors near the entrance to the Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden.

The realistic DinoQuest dinosaurs and reptiles are a labor of love for creator Guy Darrough of Lost World Studios in Arnold, Mo. Darrough has been devoted to building life-sized models of these extinct creatures for nearly 15 years.

“My ultimate goal is to create an experience that is realistic enough to draw visitors into the arena of science and learning,” said Darrough. “The aesthetic appeal of these dinosaurs coupled with the surrounding vegetation is just incredible.”

The dinosaur discovery continues as visitors exit the Climatron into the Brookings Interpretive Center. There, visitors will be amazed to view a one-and-one-half-ton slab of sandstone containing over 200 bones from dinosaurs, turtles, fish and birds. Darrough obtained the slab from an excavation in Lance Creek, Wyo. and estimates the sandstone piece is over 65 million years old.

Children can hone their own paleontology skills by unearthing faux bones at a mini-dino dig site, climb and play in a dinosaur nest, envision themselves in the days of dinosaurs through green screen technology, and get an up-close look at the Dino Egg Incubator, an original prop from the set of the movie “Jurassic Park III.” Families can explore life in tropical forests today, discovering geckos and poison dart frogs, exploring the connections between animals and plants, and experiencing the many multi-sensory gifts that these bio-rich ecosystems give us. Visitors will also learn about tropical forests today and how Garden researchers are working feverishly to document, protect and preserve these at-risk ecosystems for generations to come.

Special themed classes, events and activities will be offered throughout the exhibition’s duration to enhance the DinoQuest experience, including “Jurassic Dark” extended Thursday evenings, DinoQuest Sleepovers, and a MovieFest. Additional activities include dinosaur-themed summer camp sessions, tropical forest ecology classes and guided tours for school groups, workshops for educators and family backpack adventures.

“DinoQuest: A Tropical Trek Through Time” is on display Saturday, May 1 through Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Purchase tickets on site or in advance beginning Spring 2010 at www.mobot.org/tickets.asp. Exhibition admission (which includes entry to the Climatron dome, Shoenberg Temperate House and Brookings Interpretive Center) is $5 for adults (ages 13 and over) and $3 for children (ages three to 12), in addition to Garden admission. Exhibition admission is free to St. Louis City and County residents on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 to 10 a.m.

Regular Garden admission is $8 for adults and free for children ages 12 and under. St. Louis City and County resident admission is $4 for adults (ages 13 to 64), $3 for seniors (ages 65 and over), and free on most Wednesday and Saturday mornings before noon. Special admission rates apply during the third weekend of May, Labor Day weekend and the first weekend of October.

Become a Missouri Botanical Garden member to receive discounted DinoQuest exhibition admission of $3 for adults and $2 for children (ages three to 12), plus free admission on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Garden members also receive free general Garden admission. For membership information, visit www.mobot.org/membership.

DinoQuest sponsorship opportunities are available. Call (314) 577-9500 or visit www.mobot.org/dinoquest/sponsor for more information.

The 79-acre Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd. in south St. Louis, accessible from Interstate 44 at the Vandeventer exit. Free parking is available on site and at lots two blocks west at the corner of Shaw and Vandeventer.

For more information on “DinoQuest: A Tropical Trek Through Time,” visit www.mobot.org/dinoquest. For general Garden information, visit www.mobot.org or call the 24-hour recorded event hotline at (314) 577-9400 or toll-free 1 (800) 642-8842.

Also May 1 through Oct. 3, 2010, visit the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House at Faust Park in Chesterfield, Mo. to experience “Jurassic Bugs.” Thirty-inch dragonflies, foot-long cockroaches and a 10-foot sea scorpion are among the models joining a host of crawling, flying and nesting living creatures on display. For more information, visit www.butterflyhouse.org or call (636) 530-0076. The Butterfly House is a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

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