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Friday, July 24, 2009

Dinosaurs to invade the nation


By MATTHEW KAUNDART
Special to The Japan Times

Makuhari Messe International Convention Complex in Chiba will be home to a replica of the world's largest dinosaur skeleton until Sept. 27. The Giant Mamenchisaurus, which is an impressive 35 meters long, is one of the main attractions of Dinosaur Expo 2009 — The Miracle of Deserts. While the mammoth size of this prehistoric creature is difficult to top, the expo's own massiveness comes daringly close, offering visitors 450 skeletons and 2,600 specimens to admire.

News photo
Monstrous: Dinosaur Expo 2009 — The Miracle of Deserts promises fun for all the family.

From the displays, some of the most interesting include specimens from an herbivorous hadrosaur, called Dakota. Found in the U.S. badlands, this dinosaur is incredibly well-preserved, and its mummified fossils offer scientists the opportunity to learn much more about dinosaurs and their ecology. This is the first time specimens from Dakota have been exhibited in Japan.

In addition to the fossils and skeletons, the expo offers modern attractions, including a sort of virtual-reality display where you can watch dinosaurs move and interact. This particular exhibit takes advantage of a "real" environment, where 3-D dinosaurs can come to life via a special visor. There are also a few displays featuring dinosaur replicas (skin and all) in more natural (less museumlike) environments.

Dinosaur Expo 2009 — The Miracle of Deserts will be at Makuhari Messe International Convention Complex in Chiba Prefecture until Sept. 27. The exhibition is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is ¥2,500 (general public) and ¥1,200 (elementary, junior high, and high school students). There are discounts for advance tickets. www.kyoryu.jp


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