Dinosaurs, forensics fascinate in detailed summer exhibits

“Dinosaurs – The Exhibition,” located in Heroes Harbor at Broadway at the Beach, is a family-oriented, interactive attraction with animatronic dinosaurs like this triceratops.
“Dinosaurs – The Exhibition,” located in Heroes Harbor at Broadway at the Beach, is a family-oriented, interactive attraction with animatronic dinosaurs like this triceratops. The Sun News file

Dinosaurs look and sound alive at Broadway at the Beach, while a forensics exhibit in a building nearby is wild with insight on traits that identify every individual.

“Dinosaurs – The Exhibition,” brought to Myrtle Beach for the spring and summer by the owners of the Palace Theatre, had quite the romp in Europe, said Kevin Littlejohn, general manager, standing at the curtain into what surely is a “Jurassic World,” also the name of the movie sequel opening Friday.

People of all ages ought to be struck in awe with a walk through this expanded gallery with animated models, eyes and appendages that move, of more than a dozen dinos, including the tyrannosaurus rex. The way the creatures are set up yields an almost all-around-access look, going under and around the specimens.

After all, dinosaurs really never get old as a topic, because thanks to fossils and science’s technological advances, new details continue to emerge about these creatures that roamed millions of years ago, as well as their connections with lizards and birds today.

“Everything in technology is used to learn more about the past,” Littlejohn said, explaining the value of such exhibits “to continue that learning.”

Standing beside the T.rex, with its mouthful of pearly whites, Littlejohn said the replicate on display reflects the size of probably a teen, and that a fully grown version, which would not fit in this tall, single-floor building, would boast about 60 teeth that would match the size of a banana.

Read up on T-rex tidbits and learn a juvenile would grow 1,000 pounds a year, too, and later reach running speeds of 15 to 25 mph.

Another carnivore, the allosaurus, though with smaller teeth, consumed its finds with a wider jaw and an S-shaped neck.

As this story turns into challenging, spelling-test territory, consider some other displays to ogle from multiple perspectives.

Notice how the ankylosaurus sported a knobby armor back, with ridges resembling, but larger than, a crocodile’s surface, and how this dino evolved with armored eyelids.

Diagonally across the corridor, a pachyrhinosaurus, a thick-headed lizard, also stands out with its dome-like hat in red and orange.

No wonder the omeisaurus, which would reach more than 60 feet in length, and up to 50 feet high, anchors its own room. The neck, under which guests may walk, looks long in proportion to the body, but the tail, moving back and forth, only will grace some plants in those quarters.

A postosuchus might prompt thoughts about today’s much smaller in comparison alligators and crocs, but notice how the front legs are shorter than the rear. Did this monster walk on two or four limbs?

The displays across this exhibition come in the context of the wild, with waterfall sounds, colorful walls from ceiling to floor, and dinosaur movements and calls, all working to stimulate “all your senses,” Littlejohn said, also pointing out that no one can be sure about the hues of dinos in their day.

For families with youngsters who might find the animated giants a tad intimidating, head back to the Dig-A-Dino room and birthday party area, with sand-digging for fossils, and art activities, as a whole wall of posted coloring pages proves, with children’s interpretations of dinos. Also, children can pick up a “Great Dinosaur Hunt!” brochure and peruse the exhibit to fill in blanks for 20 questions, such as “How many horns did the triceratops have?”

Other adults who enter with their youth might split up for time, and wonder “Where’s the kids?” Littlejohn said, welcoming everyone, no matter how old, to be “the kid for a day.”

Forensically speaking

In WonderWorks, before the newly opened “Forensic Science” wing, Kaitlin Barnes, education sales manager, talked about “the CSI effect” and how this science in the past decade or so has woven its own web in interest and attention, thanks in part to that TV series, as well as other hits such as “NCIS,” “Law & Order” and “Bones.”

Fitting right in as part of this multistory playground full of science, the forensics exhibit delves into the process that medical examiners scour in the facial reconstruction to help solve a crime or answer other vital questions.

Barnes said WonderWorks personnel credit the National Center of Missing & Exploited Children and the National Museum of Crime & Punishment, as well as 3DSystems, and FaceCheck, for so shaping a basic look at forensics and the whole world of information it entails and encourages.

Three areas make up this exhibit, in a nutshell:

▪ Facial recognition – When looking in the mirror, had you ever pondered how your face contains about 80 landmarks, or nodal points? These include the nose width, distance between the eyes, depth of eye sockets, cheekbone shape and jaw length.

▪ Fingerprint identification – This form of biometrics deals with the groups of ridges and patterns sorted into loops, whorls and arches. Also, identical twins, despite having the same DNA, will not have identical fingerprints.

▪ Facial reconstruction – With this procedure, enhanced by computer technology, no matter how long it takes, even with skeletal remains, a deceased person might be identified, which helps lead to answers in criminal cases, and some closure for surviving kin.

Speaking shortly before WonderWorks opened one day last month, as a busload of Darlington County Schools students awaited the start to their field trip, Barnes said all these advances in forensics in so short a time in this century brings “a new brand of science” the public can learn about and appreciate more.

Two machines on hand add some fun and intrigue for this exhibit.

For the facial recognition exercise, see a lineup of what famous folks resemble you in some, even minute, way.

Barnes also smiled at the fun of the pop-up celebrity likenesses, and its instant popularity with visitors, and she takes seriously how forensics and its real-life science has taken foot in the entertainment industry, on television and in movies.

Another interactive element involves pressing a finger down for the machine to read the ridges and punch out a “Fingerprint record,” complete with a booking number, but all in fun, with such arrest reasons as “Singing off key,” which Barnes encountered twice, and “Music too loud.”

Lori Lampo, WonderWorks’ local senior sales and marketing manager, said some recent “arrests” found from her fingerprints dealt with “Texting too much” and “Eating too much candy” – “two of my favorite things.” She also had facial lookalikes that made a “score” for her: Beyonce Knowles and Angelina Jolie.

Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.

If you go, at Broadway at the Beach, in Myrtle Beach

‘Dinosaurs – The Exhibition’

When | 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily through Aug. 29

Where | Northeast corner of complex, off 29th Avenue North, between Ripley’s Aquarium and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville

How much | Plus tax:

▪ $14.95 ages 13 and older, $9.95 ages 3-12, free ages 2 and younger

▪ Family pass, for two adults, two children $44.95

Information | 808-9619, 888-841-2787 or www.dinosaursmb.com


Including | Newly opened “Forensic Science” exhibit

When | 9 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

Where | At U.S. 17 Bypass, off 21st Avenue North, across from Palace Theatre

How much | Plus tax, and including indoor ropes courses: $23.99 ages 13-54; and $15.99 and $9.99 ages 4-12 and 55 and older; free ages 3 and younger

Also | Other combo tickets available, with choices including the “Soar + Explore” Ropes Course and Zipline, and laser tag game, plus tax

Information | 626-9962 or www.wonderworksonline.com/myrtle-beach/