Dinosaurs in the Wild is very much a science-led project: it incorporates the latest scientific thinking on dinosaurs and their fascinating world. Every decision made is based on the most up-to-date evidence and theories available to us.
That’s one reason why the dinosaurs look so different from our traditional view of the Late Cretaceous world. As the show’s lead scientific consultant and an expert on dinosaurs’ appearance and behaviour, it was my job to supply the artists, model-makers, writers and animators with detailed information on the animals and their environment.
Bringing dinosaurs to life
We began by choosing a particular point in time, and a particular set of dinosaurs and other extinct animals. The Late Cretaceous of western North America was chosen, mostly because this is the time and place inhabited by such spectacular, famous animals as Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops.
After choosing our animals, weeks of discussion followed where we worked out what sort of behaviours we were going to show and how we might best bring the animals to life. There’s no direct information on the colours or patterns of these animals, so we mostly relied on information from modern animals.
We also included recent discoveries, some of which have been a big surprise to scientists and will certainly be surprising to visitors. For example, inflatable sacs might have been present on the faces and necks of some big dinosaurs. Feathers and hair-like filaments were also present on some, contrary to many familiar representations of dinosaurs.
Interestingly, our tyrannosaurs do not roar because modern studies show that open-mouthed roaring (like you find in big cats) was almost certainly not something these animals did. And the gigantic, long-jawed Quetzalcoatlus (a pterosaur, not a dinosaur) is shown as a ground-striding predator capable of leaping into flight from the ground, in line with our latest findings on this animal.
Take a tour of the TimeBase
The show takes school groups 67 million years back in time to TimeBase 67, where groups will come face to face with a range of dinosaurs, including Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, the club-tailed Ankylosaurus and the gigantic Alamosaurus.
A live autopsy of a five-metre long, dome-headed Pachycephalosaurus provides incredible detail of its impressively large skull. In addition, a tiny squirrel-like creature called Purgatorius provides a haunting specimen of humanity’s very first ancestor.
Meanwhile, the Animal Laboratory, which is divided into nocturnal and daytime areas and where visitors will see juveniles from species such as Leptoceratops, Acheroraptor or Ankylosaurus. These were hatched at the TimeBase and are all safely caged, but visitors are asked to remain alert at all times in here and to keep their fingers away from the bars, as some of these animals are extremely aggressive – and almost always hungry!
The tour of TimeBase 67 saves the best for last – The Lookout is a hugely impressive space, with panoramic windows offering breath-taking views of the prehistoric life teeming on the Cretaceous plains outside.
Dinosaurs in the Wild provides primary school pupils with a new, exciting and scientifically plausible view of the ancient world. It was great fun to be part of and we hope it succeeds in bringing dinosaurs and their world to life!
This is just a preview of what visitors have in store. This immersive and interactive voyage of discovery, comes to Manchester’s EventCity in October followed by London in February 2018. To find out more, and to facilitate a tour, visit www.dinosaursinthewild.com/education or contact [email protected] / 0800 8527244.
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