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Photo by Lydia Bociurkiw, from the Apt613 flickr pool.

The ultimate for dinosaur fanatics, at the Museum of Nature

By Crystal Parsons on June 21, 2016

Something big has arrived at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Something VERY big! This summer’s blockbuster exhibition is Ultimate Dinosaurs.

Featuring fully articulated skeletons from the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, these are some of largest dinosaurs (and a few little guys too) to ever roam the earth. Ultimate dinosaur fans will get to see species such as Giganotosaurus, which, at over 12 meteres long is one of the largest carnivores ever. There’s also the large crocodile-like Suchomimus and the Amargasaurus, known for it’s distinctive twin “sails” along the neck, just to name a few.

If your kids like dinosaurs, they’re going to love this exhibition. It’s not dark or scary (there’s a little fake lightning and thunder on one display but it didn’t seem to faze any of the toddlers around me) and there’s also lots of activity tables, screens to swipe and things to touch. At one interpretative station, I got to hold 70 million year old dinosaur poo (it’s not every day that kind of thing happens).

However this show isn’t designed exclusively with kids in mind – older “kids at heart” will enjoy it too. The sheer size of these skeletons is impressive and in most cases, you can walk all the way around to compare and enjoy them from all angles. It’s visually quite spectacular – huge full-color mural backdrops, large screen film projections and the aforementioned swipe screens on the information panels do a really great job of providing extra information visually. I was also pleased to see some of the panels included braille and raised illustrations of the skeletons for the visually impaired.

My one disappointment was that this show doesn’t appear to have the full scale “augmented reality” it boasted when it was presented at the Royal Ontario Museum. For two of the largest skeletons, there are mounted tablets that let you see what the dinosaur skeleton in front of you would look like live and in the flesh. Point the tablet at its side, you see it breathing. Point it at it’s head, it’s blinking right back at you. When this exhibition was presented at the ROM, the background on the tablet was made to look like the background in the museum so it really did seem like a live dinosaur was standing in front of you. At the Nature Museum, this is substituted with a landscape so unfortunately, you lose some of that effect. When I visited, one of the stations was completely out of synch with the skeleton. The tablets seemed to work best on the Giganotosaurus and the snorts and roars from the speakers above helped create the illusion.

Fun and dinosaurs go together like summer and sprinklers so if you’re looking for something to beat the heat this summer, head on down to the Nature Museum and check this one out.

Ultimate Dinosaurs was created by the Royal Ontario Museum and is presented by the Science Museum of Minnesota. It continues at the Canadian Museum of Nature until September 5th.