Dinosaurs invade Catawba Science Center

Slip back in time — way back — like millions of years ago and walk among dinosaurs in a lush, primordial swamp setting of misty pools and hanging vines. Impossible to miss amid delicate ferns are six not-so-delicate roaring, robotic dinosaurs.

The immersive, prehistoric setting in Catawba Science Center’s Carpenter Hall is home for the dinosaurs through Sept. 2.

The prehistoric setting offers a glimpse of late Permian, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The half-sized roaring robotic dinosaurs include the king of dinosaurs Tyrannosaurus rex — along with Triceratops, Pachycephalosaurus, Dimetrodon, Stegosaurus and a mother Apatosaurus protecting her newly hatched babies.

According to Phil Hawn, director of exhibits, the dinosaurs are only part of the exhibit.

“I set these guys (dinosaurs) up chronologically and added a lot of information about the different periods — things we didn’t have before,” Hawn said. “We have an actual dinosaur bone, real fossils, lots of demonstrations and a paleo-research camp.”

Catawba Science Center bought the dinosaurs from Discovery Place but they’re not “home” much.

“These guys stay on the road,” Hawn said, “on tour to other science centers and museums.”

Interest in dinosaurs is big business.

“The interest continues from 30 years ago,” Hawn said. “They’re good products for imagination and play. In fact, we added some models for that.”

In addition, an interpretative staff roams throughout the visit.

“They are dressed in costume and are in character as paleontologists and research scientists,” Hawn said.

“This is in addition to our support staff.”

Although there are six dinosaurs that growl, roar and move, Hawn does not expect the dinos will frighten children.

He set the exhibit specifically not to frighten youngsters and did a “run-through” with his children.

“This is not a walk-through and be scared, but a come through, touch and stay,” Hawn said.

Go beyond the bones — come see how these prehistoric creatures may have looked and sounded when they roamed the earth millions of years ago

programs and trips

Digging Up the Past
Wednesdays, 4 p.m.
Saturdays/Sundays, 2 p.m.
Learn about tools used by paleontologists to uncover fossils that shed light on prehistoric plants and animals. Use various tools to dig for fossils and identify them according to geologic time period.

Fossil Features
Fridays, 4 p.m.
Saturdays/Sundays, 2 p.m.
What is a fossil? Learn what an object a fossil, different types of fossils and how they are formed. See authentic fossil finds, as well as reproductions and casts. Participants will make their own fossils molds using shell or bone and modeling clay.

Fossil Fair Trip
Feb. 4, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Join CSC Naturalist Bruce Beerbower for a field trip to the Fossil Fair at the Schiele Museum of Natural History.

The event spotlights several natural treasures from the Earth including fossils, rocks, minerals and the ancient stories that accompany each of these items. Kids will have the opportunity to meet animated prehistoric characters, see a full-sized T. rex, make a fossil fish print, mine for gemstones and search for tiny fossils from the Carolina Coast. Interesting specimens will be available for purchase from vendors.CSC provides transportation. Cost: $15 members, $25 nonmembers. Call 828-322-8169 to register.

Dino Family Day
March 17, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Activities included with general admission include dino rubbings, fossil-making and a Dino Dig slide show presented by CSC Naturalist Bruce Beerbower at 2 p.m. Learn about his adventures digging for dinosaurs, as well as an upcoming trip to Utah and Colorado, June 24

Dino Egg Hunt
April 7, 10 a.m. Free with general admission. Hunt for eggs, among the dinosaurs and throughout the science center. Treats inside and special prizes for those who find the most eggs.

Trip to Gray Fossil Site
June 16, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Tour of paleontological dig site and fossil museum, Gray, Tenn.

Dinosaur Dig in Colorado and Utah
June 24-30. Naturalist-led expedition to dig for early horses and mammals, work at a dinosaur dig-site and in a paleontology lab.
For additional program details, trip fees and registration information, call 828-322-8169.

Dig for Dinos in the
Great American West
Join Catawba Science Center (CSC) Naturalist Bruce Beerbower and chief paleontologist Dr. John Foster at the Museum of Western Colorado for a Dinosaur Dig June 24 –30.

Be a paleontologist and explore the sites of the Great American West including, Colorado National Monuments with canyons, buttes and mesas, Dead Horse Point and Arches National Park in Utah.

Begin your journey through time in Colorado digging for early horses and other mammals, then continue on to Utah to study dinosaur tracks, gain hands-on experience at a dinosaur dig site and view Native American Rock Art. The week will conclude with a rafting trip on the Colorado River and work in a paleontology lab to learn how technicians prepare dinosaur bones and fossils. Alternate field trips will be planned, in the event of inclement weather.

Visit www.CatawbaScience.org for program details, trip fees and registration information. Call or email Bruce Beerbower for additional details at 828-322-8169, ext. 308 or email naturalist@catawbascience.org.

Explore Earth’s National Treasures at Fossil Fair Feb. 4