Photo Credit:  Jamie Pham

Dinosaurs: Unextinct at the L.A. Zoo's Diabloceratops Eggs and Babies

Seven adorable life-like baby Diabloceratops dinosaurs make their debut are among a pack of prehistoric creatures residing in a once off-limits corner of the Los Angeles Zoo at its “Dinosaurs: Unextinct” exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo

Nesting since April 15 when the exhibit opened to the public, the newborns – three girls and four boys – “hatched” beside their ferociously protective mom, who is one of 17 animatronic dinosaurs in the exhibit, all – including the little ones — brought to life with electronic “brains.”  

The exhibit’s dinosaurs take visitors back in time for a colossal adventure, providing a rare chance to discover a lost world from millions upon millions of years ago while warning about the very real threat of extinction faced today by many endangered species.

Among the exhibit’s features is a Fossil Dig, a Stegosaurus robot with controls guests can operate to make the creature move; a climbable Pachyrhinosaurus; and a free downloadable augmented reality app (visit www.lazoo.org/dinos) to access special content, including 3-D views of all the dinosaurs. The experience offers different levels of awe, as well as plenty of “aha”s, with fascinating facts about the prehistoric era, the featured dinosaurs and their similarities to L.A. Zoo animals.

Guests embark on a self-guided stroll along a trail through lush landscaping with foliage similar to the earliest known trees and plants at the time dinosaurs roamed the earth, among them ferns, cycads, conifers and ginkos. The exhibit represents an array of dinosaur anatomic shapes and sizes, ranging in heights up to almost 22 feet, lengths of just over 21 feet and weights topping 6,700 pounds, from locations around the earth and geological eras spanning 65 to 200 million years ago.

Visits with the creatures, all boasting an extensive range of motion in a manner experts believe the animals would actually have moved, begin with a Suchomimus, complete with a fierce crocodile-like mouth, from the Cretaceous period some 110 million years ago, followed by a Brachiosaurus, from the Jurassic period 156 million years ago, whose 18-foot-long neck required a gigantic heart to pump blood up to the top.

Guests also encounter two Coelophysis dinosaurs, from the Triassic period 210 million years ago; a Citipati from the late Cretaceous period, which used its feathers to protect and warm its eggs, just like modern-day birds do; and a Carnotaurus, a bipedal carnivore covered in small scales and bony lumps from the late Cretaceous period.

More dinosaurs include an Edmontonia, an herbivore with heavy body armor to defend itself, from the late Cretaceous period; and a Utahraptor, the alpha predator of the early Cretaceous period 124 million years ago, whose most unique feature was an extra-long, sickle-shaped claw on the second digit of each foot used to pin down and tear apart prey.

Dinosaur families are represented by a Dilophosaurus and baby Dilophosaurus, fast moving bipedal carnivores from the Jurassic period 201 million years ago; and the Diabloceratops and its five babies, representative of the dinosaur from the late Cretaceous whose name means – and aptly describes – its “devil-horned face.

Finally, no remarkable dinosaur exhibit would be complete without a Tyrannosaurus, better known as a T-Rex, one of the largest and most powerful dinosaurs, from the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago.  Its unfortunate prey, an iconic Triceratops from the Cretaceous period 72 million years ago, lies at the T-Rex’s feet.

Along the way, visitors encounter a Fossil Dig where they can brush away sand to uncover “bones” made from a fiberglass mold taken from an actual juvenile Maiasaura fossil, a large, herbivorous hadrosaurid that lived in the area currently covered by Montana during the upper Cretaceous period about 76 million years ago.

Another “fun stop” features a Stegosaurus robot with controls guests can operate to make the creature move, and a hashtag-worthy, dino-size photo op featuring a Pachyrhinosaurus, a dramatic-looking cousin of the Triceratops, with massive flattened growths over its nose.

Accompanying the exhibit is a free downloadable “Dinosaurs: Unextinct at the L.A. Zoo” augmented reality app providing an opportunity to interact up-close with each dinosaur by “unlocking” an animated model when pointing a digital device at a target image.  A link to download the app can be found at www.lazoo.org/dinos.

The exhibit, produced and presented by the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, is available daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and continues through Oct. 31.

The Los Angeles Zoo is located at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways in Griffith Park.  5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA  90027.  Free parking is available.  For tickets and additional information, call (323) 644-6001 or visit lazoo.org/dinos   For general information about the Zoo, call (323) 644-4200.  #DinosAtTheLAZoo

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