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Archive for the ‘dinosaurs’ Category

I confess I was a blur Mummy, and didn’t realise that Asher had no school on Thursday until a day before when I heard it from other Mummies! So I felt a bit guilty, but then I was so happy too because we’d have a day to spend together! I decided to let Ellery skip school the next day and that we’d head to the new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

I’ve been looking forward to it’s opening since it was first mentioned in the news a few years back. And when the announcement came that it was opened to the public, I was a bit wistful that the earliest we could go was in June. Asher’s in the afternoon session, so there really isn’t any opportunity to go on weekdays, and weekends are out cos the hubby isn’t so interested to venture there. So I was so happy and the boys were very excited about being able to head there to see the dinosaur fossils. My mum decided to tag along too since she had not been there either.

The place isn’t very big, but there are so many interesting exhibits to see. They estimate that it would take 1.5hrs to go through the museum. For kids, double that. We easily spent 3 hours there, and even then there were parts that we didn’t look at in such great detail. There are too many interesting things to elaborate upon here, it’s best you go see for yourself!

There’s no denying that the fossils were majestic, but I felt that they looked a little bit cramped in that space. However, knowing the background to the building and the museum, it’s amazing that we even have them in Singapore at all!

The museum is so much more than just the fossils though. The plants, the insects, the mammals, the reptiles…wow! So many specimens! I remember seeing some of the specimens in the old Raffles Museum of Biodiversity, and though it was small it already so interesting. What more this place where more of the collection can be unveiled. And I love looking at the names of the different creatures because sometimes they have such funny names, like the Old Woman Octopus!

We would have stayed longer if our bellies didn’t demand that we left. We had come in the morning at 1030, and our stomachs were calling out for food. I’m sure we’ll come back again.

Welcomed by a kaleidoscope of specimens

Welcomed by a kaleidoscope of specimens

Mmmmuuaaak. We love you dino!

Mmmmuuaaak. I love you dino!

UUUUMMMMM! I'm a T-Rex and I WANT TO EAT YOU!!!

UUUUMMMMM! I’m a T-Rex and I WANT TO EAT YOU!!!

The fossils of the three sauropods

The fossils of the three sauropods. There’s a light display every 30 mins.

Nice views of the fossils from the second floor

Nice views of the fossils from the second floor

The real fossil of the head still buried in the rock. The scientists were afraid that excavating it could compromise the specimen. So the ones on display are casts of the real thing.

The real fossil of the head still buried in the rock. The scientists were afraid that excavating it could compromise the specimen. So the ones on display are casts of the real thing.

Pretending to be the bittern

Pretending to be the Bittern

I never realised how big frigate birds were!

I never realised how big frigate birds were!

This is the most hilarious mating display ever. He puffs up into a flat plate!

This is the most hilarious mating display ever. He puffs up into a flat plate!

Croc looking scary...

Croc looking scary…

...Until you look at this eyes and he seems a bit goofy :)

…Until you look at this eyes and he seems a bit goofy :) “duh…”

Amazed how the size of the triceretops' leg.

Amazed how the size of the triceretops’ leg

 The Japanese Spider Crab has the largest leg span of any arthopod, and can reach 3.8m end to end! 

The Japanese Spider Crab has the largest leg span of any arthopod, and can reach 3.8m end to end!

Compare it with the Coral Spider Crab which is one of the smallest crabs in the world. They seldom exceed 2mm in length!

Compare it with the Coral Spider Crab which is one of the smallest crabs in the world. They seldom exceed 2mm in length!

The most boring specimen in the museum. The Boring Giant Clam.

The most boring specimen in the museum.
The Boring Giant Clam.

Old Woman Octopus

The wrinkly Old Woman Octopus. 

Beautiful colours on the nymph!

Beautiful colours on the nymph!

Pterosaurs!

Pterosaurs! Ellery was sooo excited to see them!

Funny flattened specimens. Probably because people wanted to find an easy way to transport them.

Funny flattened specimens. Probably because people wanted to find an easy way to transport them in the past.

Most of the bird specimens were preserved with their legs and wings tucked in, and it seemed quite normal. But I couldn't help laughing when I saw this Barred Eagle-Owl. The expression on his face made me think of a superhero diving to save some innocent people from baddies! "I'm coming!"

Most of the bird specimens were preserved with their legs and wings tucked in, and it seemed quite normal. But I couldn’t help laughing when I saw this Barred Eagle-Owl. The expression on his face made me think of a superhero diving to save some innocent people from baddies! “Here I come to save the day!”

Do take note that you need to purchase tickets from SISTIC before you go down to the museum. They do not sell tickets at the museum itself. This is done to ensure that the museum doesn’t get over-crowded. There are 6 visitor sessions each day that you can choose from when purchasing your tickets, and entry is strictly by session timings only.

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Faculty of Science
National University of Singapore
2 Conservatory Drive
Singapore 117377
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Carnivore

What is scarier, more fearsome, more ferocious than the giant T-Rex?

An Alyssa!!!

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She goes, “Rarr!” Then eats him.

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It was Ellery’s turn to go out without Asher, although in his case Alyssa still came along. So it was not quite a one-on-one date.

When I told Ellery about Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo and read the synopsis to him, he was very excited and imagined that he’d see many different types of dinosaurs, afterall the description said we could expect to see an “amazing array of creatures”. He was talking about the show from lunch time, and was bouncing around excitedly before the show.

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It started out promisingly enough with some prehistoric vegetation decorating the stage and the sounds of the forest bringing you into the dinosaur world. The show was delivered in the format of a documentary, with the presenter telling the audience about the different types of dinosaurs that came on stage. They started with a pair of baby Muttaburrasaurus, the dinosaur that at home we joke is the “murtabak-saurus” (murtabak is a type of Indian-Muslim minced meat pancake found in Singapore). I thought it was good how the host gave facts about the dinosaur and invited children up to pat the dinosaurs.

Baby dinosaur (Photo taken from the Dinosaur Zoo Live gallery)

 

I liked seeing the giant dragonfly, Meganeura, because we had read about it in one of the dinosaur stories at home. Ellery was really happy he saw the Meganeura and said he’d tell Asher all about it when he got home. They had several Meganeura flying all about the theatre, and the giant dragonflies landed on the children’s hands and heads, much to everyone’s delight.

Meganeura (Photo taken from the Dinosaur Zoo Live gallery)

 

Next came some Leaellynasaura, which the host consistently mispronounced as “lee-AN-na-saw-ra”. I noted this because when learning about dinosaurs I was particularly fascinated by this species. I thought I might have got the pronunciation wrong but went home to check, and actually even the KidsFest Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo factsheet says it’s “lee-EL-in-a-saw-rah”. It’s a small thing, but if the show aims to give children facts about dinosaurs, I thought the host should have gotten the name right.

A pair of Leaellynasaura (Photo taken from the Dinosaur Zoo Live gallery)

 

From here the show started to get less interesting for me, and from Ellery’s expression, for him too. A fearsome looking dinosaur puppet appeared, and while it looked impressive and served well to add excitement to the show in terms of a scary monster on stage, I felt that the show relied too much on this. The dinosaur, which the host called a T-Rex (more on this later), spent quite a bit of time scaring the audience. Rather than tell the audience interesting facts about the T-Rex, a lot of time was also spent getting children to feed and pat the T-Rex, with lots of false starts and sudden moves to scare the volunteers along the way. Humourous and entertaining, but not very scientific nor educational as the show touted itself to be (“…connecting young audiences to the real science of palaeontology”).

Hugging a 'T-Rex' (Photo courtesy of ABA Productions)

Hugging a ‘T-Rex’ (Photo courtesy of ABA Productions)

A kid did get ‘eaten’ during the show! (Photo taken from the Dinosaur Zoo Live gallery)

 

In fact, that wasn’t a T-Rex at all. The skull structure of the dinosaur was wrong (T-Rex’s heads are much more massive compared to the body), and if you see the photos from the show, the puppet has three claws. Any bona fide dinosaur fan will tell you T-Rexs have only two claws.

Let’s count the claws now, 1, 2, 3… (Photo taken from Dinosaur Zoo Live gallery)

 

The show was supposed to focus on dinosaurs found in Australia, but I guess they were trying to appeal to everyone’s familiarity with the T-Rex. I think it would have been better to stick to Australian dinosaurs so that the show is focused and the audience can learn something new about the less familiar Australian dinosaurs. I suspect that actually the puppet was meant to represent the Australian carnivore, the Australovenator, as this was listed on the KidsFest Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo factsheet. The Australovenator is a medium-sized allosaur, so the puppet would have been more appropriate.

When show ended with the head and neck of the Titanosaur, Ellery was surprised and asked me where the other dinosaurs were. He then said he wished there were more dinosaurs in the show.

Me too.

Indeed, while the show was funny and entertaining, it was not what I had expected based on the show synopsis. Charming, but ultimately disappointing.

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We were given complimentary tickets for the show. All opinions are my own.

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Brought the boys to catch the Dinosaurs Dawn to Extinction exhibition at the ArtScience Museum.

Dino welcome

Dino welcome

It was touted as tracing the development of dinosaurs from the pre-dinosaur age of the Precambrian period to when dinosaurs appeared in the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.  I was in particular looking forward to the Precambrian exhibit since none of the other dinosaur exhibitions we’ve been to covered this. Unfortunately, I found the coverage of the Precambrian period to be quite sparse.  There was one room dedicated to it with some exhibits and write-ups, but I guess I was disappointed because I expected a much more in-depth coverage of the period.

Moving from time period to time period, there was also just a short write-up about the changing times.  Mostly there were fossils and models on display, with some information about which dinosaurs or reptiles they were, the meaning of their names and their diet.

Greeted by a fierce Herrarasaurus

Greeted by a fierce Herrarasaurus

Tracing the timeline

Tracing the timeline

The interesting part, for me, was that many of the dinosaurs/reptiles on display were new to me and the kids.  We had not read or heard about many of them.  And the ones that we were familiar with were not usually shown at other exhibitions.  For example, we’ve never seen cynodonts or dicynodonts at other exhibitions.  My favourite was the Ischigualastia. I just thought it’s feet were so cute!  Yes, a bit of a strange word to use when it comes to fossils.  But it was rounded and looked padded.  Not the typical claws you’d expect from these creatures.  Of course once you complete it with teeth and flesh and skin it won’t be so cute anymore.

Cute feet right?

Cute feet right?

File:Ischigualastia skeleton.jpg

The whole Ischigualastia

Ellery’s favourite was the Saurosuchus, a type of reptile not a dinosaur.  It was huge!  And not a friendly looking fellow at all.

Saurosuchus eating some kids

Saurosuchus eating some kids

Asher liked the Sillosuchus because, in his words, “it’s skinny like me!”

Skinny Sillosuchus, and skinny Asher

Skinny Sillosuchus, and skinny Asher

And we got to see the Megalania too!  How exciting!  I didn’t expect to see it here because we had read about it when learning about prehistoric mammals (though this is a reptile, not a mammal.  It was one of the predators during that time).  This creature is from a much later period than the dinosaurs.

Megalania

Megalania

I liked that there were some real fossils interspersed among the replicas, and the boys would get excited and proclaim, “Mummy!  This is a real fossil!”  It was also nice that there were some stations where the kids could get some hands on fun too.

Lots of things to touch and feel

Lots of things to touch and feel

Trying to move like the dinosaurs

Trying to move like the dinosaurs

There was also an impressive display of what Liaoning, China, would have looked like in prehistoric times.  The boys had fun trying to spot the different creatures.

Transported to ancient Liaoning

Transported to ancient Liaoning

Psittacosaurus family by the pond

Psittacosaurus family by the pond

Confuciusornis (with the double tail) flying above

Confuciusornis (with the double tail) flying above

We ended up spending almost three hours at the exhibition, including 30 mins attending their paleontologist workshop where they explain what a paleontologist would do when digging up fossils.  They boys very much wanted to be picked as a volunteer, but unfortunately they weren’t chosen.  But at least the kids got to get up close to the demonstration materials after the workshop and look/touch some of the stuff.

Digging for fossils

Digging for fossils

Dinosaurs Dawn to Extinction runs until 27 Jul 2014, from 10am-7pm.  You can get your tickets from SISTIC and save $2, or buy directly at the ArtScience Museum counter.  There are dino shadow puppet shows daily from 10am-630pm, and a paleontologist workshop at 4pm.

Asher pretending to have the rounded head of the Koolasuchus Cleelandi

Asher pretending to have the rounded head of the Koolasuchus Cleelandi (the creature on the water behind him)

Attack!

Attack!

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