A Completely Scientific Review of the Perot Museum's World's Largest Dinosaurs Exhibit
The Perot Museum recently unveiled their World's Largest Dinosaurs exhibit, a traveling collection of fossils, skin impressions, animation and more. Sauropods, the super-sized group of dinosaurs shown at Perot (and pictured above), stomped their way around Earth for approximately 140 million years, eating every plant in sight while showing off their bumpy scales and seriously long necks. Their remains are pretty mind-blowing, and the exhibit goes all out by recreating a 60-foot-long female Mamenchisaurus, which isn't the biggest sauropod overall, but does feature a neck half the length of its entire body. That's a lot of Deep Ellum neck tats. This exhibit might be the closest we can come to visiting the giants of our past, so I checked it out earlier this week, armed with awe, wonder and a liberal arts degree. Here's some of what I found.
All photos by Jane R. LeBlanc What are these? Dinosaurs for ants?
Check out this sexy thigh. It belonged to a Camarasaurus who lived between 155 and 145 million years ago. Based on this femur, this dino probably weighed about 22 tons. These legs were built for strength, y'all. Today, this guy would be probably be found on the pro soccer field, sporting a pound of hair gel and faking injuries like no one's business. But his tan would be off the chain.
I can hear the griddle now. From earth-rattling dinosaurs to the tiniest of tiny birds, these eggs run the gamut. From left to right, we have the eggs from: an Elephant bird (extinct), an Ampelosaurus atacis (extinct), an Oviraptor philoceratops (extinct), an Osprey (alive today) and a Ruby-throated hummingbird (alive today). While the Ampelosaurus atacis is the biggest of the group, its eggs only average 9 lbs., which is smaller than some of the big-headed babies my friends have somehow birthed. Obviously, the size of the eggs don't predict the size of the animal. Again, just like some of my friends...
Sauropods had to eat a lot of leafy greens just to keep their bodies running. One hundred and sixty to 145 million years ago, the goal was quantity, not quality -- they just couldn't afford to be picky. Here you can see about how much foliage a giant Mamenchisaurus ate in just one hour -- about the same amount as your run-of-the-mill Denton vegan, except vegans only eat organic, pesticide-free foliage. I mean, can you imagine?! (Shudder.)
This rave-ready, life-sized Mamenchisaurus breathing system is based on the breathing systems of birds and crocodiles, dinosaurs' closest living relatives. The exhibit even plays the sounds of a Mamenchisaurus breathing, but it fails to include the dinosaur-sized snores that we all know existed. C'mon. Those things weighed tons. If they could hang out with us on Superbowl Sunday, they'd be passed out in a Barcalounger, Doritos crumbs on their scaley chests, snores rattling from their 30-foot-long throats.
This happy face once belonged to a Diplodocus, a sauropod who lived about 156 to 145 million years ago. Notice how he only has front teeth and no canines or grinding teeth. Sauropods only had one kind of tooth -- those in the front -- which functioned like incisors, meaning they could only scrape and snap at their food. Which was for the better -- chewing was a possibly fatal waste of time and energy as their massive size dictated speedy meals. So sauropods just swallowed everything whole, exactly like the guy who always ends up sitting next to me at restaurants. Dude, chew your food. No one's going to take it away from you. It's not like you're a sauropod or something.
The World's Largest Dinosaurs exhibit runs until September 1, 2014. For tickets, you can go online or pick them up at the museum.