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Lauren Helton ([personal profile] dino_a_day) wrote2014-08-04 06:26 pm
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Oregon Museum of Science and Industry - Dinosaurs Unearthed

Drawing time today was replaced by museum time as I went to visit OMSI's summer exhibit, "Dinosaurs Unearthed", which is a traveling exhibition hosted by these folks. I'd been meaning to get there all summer long and finally today I made it over. The show bills itself as using "the latest in fossil evidence to take a captivating look at the dinosaurs’ fascinating — and feathered — history." How could I resist?

Unfortunately, my hopes were perhaps too high. The exhibit did have some nice casts of teeth and footprints and limbs and a few eggs, and those were all nice to see as they gave some real context and detail about the world of the Jurassic, which the exhibit focused on. But the dinosaurs themselves were... unfortunate.

Velociraptor mongoliensis

Lots of small theropods were reconstructed at several times life size, which... okay? Maybe makes them look more menacing? But I don't know why that was necessary. But that's just the start. This Velociraptor, for example, was completely unrecognizeable to me without the sign. Palm-down bunny hands with short stubby fingers, massive heavy ridged head, elephant-thick legs and feet, and its feathery coat looks like someone draped it in a shag carpet.

Confuciusornis sanctus

Confuciusornis fared even worse. Those of you who have seen my illustration of it know that it's very sparrow-like, aside from the toothed snout and clawed wings. This 3-foot monstrosity, however, is... well. I'm not sure what it is, and again, without the sign I don't think I would ever have known what it was supposed to be.

They did do some things well. Most of the dinosaurs were animatronic and while the movements weren't perfectly smooth, they did look pretty good. The Stegosaurus was especially nice, since the controls were available so kids could move it around a little and really feel like they were interacting with it. The Allosaurus was actually really nice, aside from the bunny hands - its facial ridges were painted beautifully and it had a real threatening presence in the hall. And all of the signs seemed factual and up-to-date, with plenty of information on the animals' real sizes, accompanied by some really nice paintings that, in my opinion, far outshone the animatronic versions in terms of accuracy and aesthetics.

For me, the best part was this:

A beautiful cast of the original Microraptor gui fossil. M. gui, that glossy black four-winged dromaeosaur in my avatar, is absolutely one of my favorites and so I was very pleased to see it on display. It was one of the few skeletons displayed as it was found rather than mounted upright, and I think it was absolutely a great choice by those who put the exhibit together. I've seen photos of the original, but being able to be right next to it in person was really nice for seeing how big (or, well, small) it was in life, and it showed off those long flight feathers far better than the shaggy dinobots did. I just hope some of the museum visitors noticed it, and how starkly it contrasted with the clunky fuzzy things moving around and roaring.