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Friday, July 4, 2008

Sky monsters rule at Miraikan exhibition

Staff Writer

Can your curiosity overcome your fear of the monsters of the skies that inhabited the Earth 150 million years ago?

News photo
Leaping lizards: An illustration for the exhibition "Pterosaurs: Rulers of the Skies in the Age of Dinosaurs," running until August 31 at the Miraikan science museum in Odaiba, Tokyo, puts the size of the ancient flying reptiles into perspective.

The exhibition "Pterosaurs; Rulers of the Skies in the Age of Dinosaurs," running until Aug. 31 at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Tokyo's Koto Ward, focuses on these ancient flying reptiles — how they lived and how they went extinct.

Researchers have discovered much about pterosaurs, including that they ranged in size from being as small as a sparrow to as large as a small airplane.

These dinosaurs were unique because of their mysterious combs, big beaks and long fingers — attributes not seen among any other animals alive today.

Recent advances in analytical technology and newly discovered fossils have provided hints for solving the mysteries of their development, habitat segregation with birds and secrets regarding their ambulation.

Among the exhibits are a structural reconstruction of an entire body and reconstructed living body model of the Quetzalcoatlus northropi, the largest pterosaur, which had a wingspan of 10 meters.

For the first time ever, this exhibition will also feature valuable pterosaur fossils found in Liaoning Province, China, in recent years.

The traveling exhibition was overseen by Dr. David Unwin, a lecturer at the Department of Museum Studies of the University of Leicester, England, and an expert on pterosaurs.

Displayed in other cities in Japan, the Miraikan will be the exhibition's final destination.

The dinosaurs will be exhibited together with Miraikan's original new exhibition titled "From the Research of Pterosaurs to the Flight Technology of the Next Generation."

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. During August, hours will be extended to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and until 8 p.m. from Aug. 13 to 17. Miraikan will be closed every Tuesday except July 22, 29, Aug. 5, 12, 19, and 26.

Admission is 1,300 yen for adults; 900 yen for those 18 years old and under.

The museum is located a four-minute walk from the Telecom Center Station on the Yurikamome Line. For more information, visit the museum's Web site at www.miraikan.jst.go.jp/ or call (03) 3570-9151.

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