Exhibit Hall

Now Open on Level 4

Meet the ancient rulers of our planet as you examine fossil replicas of dinosaurs and prehistoric sea creatures. Orlando Science Center showcases the dinosaurs in their disparate land and aquatic settings as guests become part of a paleontological excavation site.

  • Uncover 'fossils' in the dig pit and examine fossilized dino eggs
  • Explore displays that feature ancient land and marine reptiles
  • Compare reptiles and dinosaurs to see similarities and differences
  • Discover denizens of the ancient oceans such as Elasmosaurus and Tylosaurus

 

FoxNews.com asks the question, “Is there a little Fred Flintstone in you?” Genetic analysis over the past decade suggests the answer is yes. In 2010, researchers were able to sequence the Neanderthal genome, as well as to the DNA of existing humans who are not from sub-Saharan Africa (including Australia). What the scientists found was evidence that the Neanderthals are to thank for part of our X chromosome, haplotype. Scientists were able to trace our DNA back about 80,000 to 50,000 years ago, the period when modern humans reportedly left Africa. Neanderthals left Africa about 400,000 to 800,000 years ago and evolved mostly in what are now France, Spain, Germany and Russia. Neanderthals went “extinct” about 30,000 years ago when they were absorbed by modern human population. Despite the time gap, genetic material from Neanderthals means the two populations interbred.

DiscoveryNews.com explained, “Neanderthals possessed the gene for language and had sophisticated music, art and tool craftsmanship skills, so they must have not been all that unattractive to modern humans at the time.” The research, published in the July issue of Molecular Biology and Evolution, is the result of work by an international team of researchers led by Damian Labuda of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Montreal, and the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center. The group is continuing their research on the Neanderthal and human connection, but for now, their findings have them saying, “yabba-dabba-do!” Here are some interesting facts about Neanderthals.

X-relative


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A discovery from Montana’s Hell Creek Formation leads researchers to believe the Triceratops may have been the last dinosaur standing. At 65 million years old, the rhinoceros-like, three-horned Triceratops would be the youngest dinosaur known to man. The dino’s age falls into the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) period where scientists believe all non-avian, or non bird-like, dinos became extinct. This finding could prove the “3-meter gap” theory false.

The 3-meter gap theory suggests dinosaurs gradually died out before the K-T event 65 million years ago. Those who support this theory believe a meteor couldn’t have killed all the dinosaurs at once because there is a segment free from any fossils. The recent discovery at Hell Creek seems to prove that theory wrong. According to the article on Discovery News, The Hell Creek Triceratops “was not only found within that 3-meter region, but it also exists at the upper reaches of it, proving that at least one dinosaur and presumably more were still alive when the meteorite blasted into Chicxulub, Mexico.” Thus, the opposing theory to the 3-meter gap suggests dinosaurs went extinct in masses because a meteor struck their homeland.

Researchers are still discovering fossils of small mammals that lived after the KT event in the Montana area. The mammals, including hoofed condylarths and rodent like multiuberculates, had to adapt and relocate after the dinosaurs went extinct. Why certain creatures survived the K-T extinction may never be known but science suggests their diet had something to do with it. Dinosaur extinction is a mystery waiting to be solved. Archeologists and researchers are continually looking to solve the case, so discoveries like the Triceratops in Montana are helpful pieces added to the puzzle.

Triceratops


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Scientists have discovered a way to take the temperature of dinosaurs. But how you ask? After all, they have been extinct for millions of years. As it turns out dinosaur teeth are good for more than just the act of chewing. Researchers were able to measure the dinosaurs’ temperatures because body temperature makes a difference in the amount of different types of carbon and oxygen that collect in the tooth enamel.

What is surprising is that the temperature of dinosaurs turns out to be almost the same as ours! They found a long-necked Brachiosaurus had a temperature of about 100.8 degrees F and the smaller Camarasaurus had a temperature of about 98.3 degrees F. People average around 98.6 degrees F. So, wouldn’t that mean that dinosaurs are warm blooded like us? Not necessarily.

When dinosaurs were first discovered, the theory was that they were lethargic and cold-blooded, but recent evidence suggests they may be more likely to be warm-blooded, which would allow them to be more active, like the velociraptors in the Jurassic Park movies.

Although the debate still remains whether or not dinosaurs were warm blooded or cold blooded, lead researcher Robert A. Eagle of the California Institute of Technology suggests, “our analysis really allows us to rule out that they could have been cold [blooded], like crocodiles, for example.” He also adds, “this doesn’t necessarily mean these large dinosaurs had high metabolism like mammals and birds…they could have been ‘gigantotherms’ and stay warm because they were so large.” Large body masses are good at keeping temperatures constant.

According to Roger Seymour of the University of Adelaide, Australia, the findings “confirm that dinosaurs were not sluggish, cold-blooded animals. However, the debate about dinosaur metabolic rate will go on, no doubt, because it can never be measured directly and paleoscientists will often seek evidence to support a particular view and ignore contrary evidence.” The verdict remains to be seen.


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777 E. Princeton Street • Orlando, Florida 32803 • Phone: 407.514.2000 • TTY: 407.514.2005 • Toll Free: 888.OSC.4FUN • Email: gservices@osc.org
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