Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dinosaurs in Hong Kong

If you walk down Chatham Road South in Hong Kong, you may wonder if there has been a dinosaur invasion.

large dinosaur outside the Hong Kong Science Museum
Fortunately, we all know such things are more likely in Japan.

Instead, what you're seeing is part of the Hong Kong Science Museum's current exhibition Legends of the Giant Dinosaurs. With 500,000 visitors in just three months, there can be long lines to see it, especially on weekends. I was able to go on a weekday, though, and happily entered without needing to stand in line.

On another day the line extended far away from here.

Once inside, you can watch a brief introductory video.

movie of ancient landscape with text "160 million years ago in China..."
First they told me I only needed to understand 5,000 years of Chinese history...

Then, before you know it you're gaining first hand experience with dinosaur excrement.

"Pile of Poo" with sign saying "Touch 3 weeks worth of Europlocephalus poo.
There's a lot more than what's in this photo.

Europlocephalus with poo underneath it
In case you didn't make the connection

And in the same spirit, how can one refuse the opportunity to make a Triceratops fart?

Kid pressing a button at the Farting Triceratops display
Although I love immersive learning, I'm glad they didn't try to replicate the smell.

If you're looking for something more intense, perhaps an interactive Tyrannosaurus rex will do the trick. [spoiler alert: a "secret" about this exhibit is revealed below]

Tyrannosaurus rex
Yes, something is looking at you.

A nearby sign explaining image recognition technology asks:
Is this Tyrannosaurus watching you with the 'image recognition' system'? Reveal the secret at the Tyrannosaurus Command Centre.
When I approached the T. rex and looked it in the eye, it let out a loud snort. I'll admit I was slightly startled. It is a T. rex after all. Curious to learn about its apparently effective image recognition system, I headed to the Command Centre where I learned I should have paid more heed to the quotation marks in the sign.

boy at the Tyrannosaurus Command Centre playing with controls and looking at live video of the area around the Tyrannosaurus
The kid who "attacked" me had already fled the scene.

To top it all off, what could be better to teach your kids than how to anger a Velociraptor?

Sign reading "Let's play with Velociraptor" next to a boy poking an animatronic velociraptor with a stick.
The Velociraptor's mane reminded me of something. It took me a few minutes, but I think I figured it out.

In addition to these and other interactive exhibits, there is also an excellent collection of dinosaur fossils, many of which were unearthed in China.

Juvenile Protoceratops
Juvenile Protoceratops

Jintasaurus meniscus with a Suzhousaurus megatherioides, Beishanlong grandis, and Lanzhousaurus magnidens in the background
Jintasaurus meniscus with Suzhousaurus megatherioides, Beishanlong grandis, and Lanzhousaurus magnidens

Xiongguanlong baimoensis with a Jintasaurus meniscus and very large Daxiatitan binglingi in the background
Xiongguanlong baimoensis with Jintasaurus meniscus and a very large Daxiatitan binglingi

The well-designed mix of fossils and interactive exhibits can keep both kids and adults amused. Like the Zigong Dinosaur Museum I visited two years ago, I enthusiastically recommend a visit if you're in the area. Just make sure to catch it before Legends of the Giant Dinosaurs becomes extinct in early April.

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