This exhibition brings the latest tyrannosuar discoveries to life, overturning our preconceptions about these ferocious predators.
Rick Ellis, Chief Executive, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
The exhibition explores the 'most feared and revered' of all dinosaurs in new and different ways.
The exhibition's specimens are not only spectacular in scale and form, but also reveal some of the most significant discoveries in palaeontology of the past decade. Tyrannosaurs offers visitors a look at rare and magnificent real fossils but also reconstructs the life-sized skeletons of these terrifying carnivores like you’ve never seen before. You think you know T. rex – think again.
One of the most exciting developments in dinosaur palaeontology over the past five years has been the discovery of early Asian tyrannosaurs – the ancestors of later giants like T. rex. In a case of good luck and timing, one of the oldest tyrannosauroids has recently been found at Liaoning in China, complete with 'proto-feathers' (early feather-like structures). Discoveries like this are changing the story of the evolution of tyrannosaurs. New research is also shedding light on the true character of T. rex, the most 'extreme' tyrannosaur.
Tyrannosaurs presents a variety of objects including a selection of striking life-sized skeletons and models. Real fossils are also included.
There are 12 main interactives in the exhibition that help the visitors learn about the evolution of the tyrannosaurs and the latest scientific stories behind these remarkable creatures. Tyrannosaurs incorporates innovative multimedia experiences to engage audiences of all ages.
Tyrannosaurs takes a playful approach to presenting the exhibition elements, while ensuring layered content is available to explore the science behind this most popular dinosaur group.
The skeletons are brought to life through computer generated image (CGI) animations presented in digital label screens. Each animation features hotspots on the animal’s body. When activated, a quick fact is revealed and the animation comes to life, snapping at the visitor's fingers if they get too close to the teeth or nose or walking and running when its legs and feet are touched. Beyond these animated splash screens the digital labels also present two other threads of information; the "dino hunter" story of the palaeontology relating to the fossil and the "habitat" story describing the ancient environments. This additional content is geared for those audiences that like more detailed information.
The exhibition also showcases a range of cutting-edge technologies to present immersive and engaging multimedia experiences. These include: an imaginative 11-metre video projection tunnel showing life-sized dinosaurs running amok at Sydney Harbour (venues can localise the backdrop scenery to feature their city); digital screens featuring computer animated creatures and layered content; a large scale, multi-touch and multiplayer family tree gaming table; an interactive augmented reality experience where visitors can play with life-sized dinosaurs in the gallery, in real time; as well as a free mobile app game that challenges the user to find and unlock 22 different tyrannosaurs.
Discover how tyrannosaurs fit into the dinosaur family tree and explore the key features that define a tyrannosaur – features that make them different from other dinosaur groups.
Visitors enter the exhibition and come face-to-face with a life-sized tyrannosaur ... only to discover it’s little bigger than they are! Here, they meet Guanlong, one of the earliest tyrannosaurs.
A spotlight on the tyrannosaur families (yes, there was more than one!) using the latest research to reveal how tyrannosaurs looked, lived, fought and fed.
Here, visitors are immersed in a large-scale projection experience, which introduces them to the tyrannosaur families. Set in a familiar, yet unexpected, context the visitor will see how tyrannosaurs came in a range of sizes and shapes; some with feathers, some without, some much more threatening than others. Being surrounded by numerous different tyrannosaurs, interacting with each other and the urban environment, will be an unforgettable and unique visitor experience; a powerful introduction to these fascinating creatures.
Tyrannosaurs lived in different habitats, at different times and evolved to fill different ecological niches. Here the experience opens up to allow visitors time to investigate the tyrannosaur families more deeply. What do we know about them and how? What don’t we know? Exhibits present the evolution of the tyrannosaur families, revealing how natural selection, continental drift and climate change facilitated their transformation from carnivores little bigger than ourselves, to massive top predators.
This section comprises a combination of specimens, casts, models and interactives. The visitor will learn about the specimens themselves and be given contextual information such as time, place, concepts on behaviour based on the fossil evidence, habitat from geological sources and ‘behind the scenes’ information about the discovery itself. Marvel at complete cast skeletons and skulls of Dilong, Alioramus, Albertosaurus, Daspletosaurus, Teratophoneus, Tarbosaurus and Appalachiosaurus.
A centrally located, large multi-touch, multiplayer game explores the tyrannosaur family tree. Played across three large screens, synched to show a seamless image of the tyrannosaur cladogram, visitors are invited to break eggs (by touching and tapping them), hatch a dinosaur and fit it onto the family tree (clues are available if needed!). But players, beware! The dinosaurs need controlling as they tend to prefer playing with the museum crates, tin drums, balls, tyres and bits of steak that populate the table. These can also be manipulated by the user, providing an additional level of entertainment for kids and kids-at-heart.
T. rex was the ultimate tyrannosaur – learn what makes it one of the most formidable predators that ever lived.
The focal piece of this section is the cast of 'Scotty', one of the largest and most complete T. rex specimens in the world. Connected to Scotty is a suite of exhibit stations that reveal what made T. rex the ultimate predator and the wealth of research (and debate) surrounding this fascinating creature. Come face to face with a fossilised tibia, hand claw and partial tooth of a T. rex.
Touch casts of a Triceratops fossilised leg bone, fossilised teeth of T. rex and coprolite. Assemble spare parts from a "bone bank" in a multi-touch large-format 3D puzzle of the skeleton of Sue, another famous T. rex specimen.
Get inside the head of T. rex and learn how T. rex used its eyes, ears and nose. Watch the video to find out how sensitive the tyrant lizard king’s senses really were. But not all is as it seems! Scotty's shadow, cast across a 20-metre wall, has a life of its own. The shadow is actually a projected film, scripted to show the animated skeleton performing a number of short humorous 'skits' every minute – from burping, dancing, roaring and yawning to a shadow-puppet hand show. A favourite with visitors of all ages, it also provides great photo opportunities and highlights the massive scale of the mighty T. rex compared with humans.
Get up close and personal with T. rex and a host of other tyrannosaurs in this cutting-edge augmented reality interactive experience. How does it feel to stand alongside these amazing predators?
Visitors encounter a huge wall of what appears to be security camera footage of various spaces in the exhibition. Slowly, tyrannosaurs can be seen 'breaching' various museum areas and entering the gallery spaces. Soon, they enter the exhibition itself and interact with the visitor in real time.
The AR is a scripted film/animation sequence interspersed with live camera feed of visitors in the gallery from four different camera locations. It runs from a rear projection across a five metre wall (floor to ceiling) in order to present the animals as life-sized and also accommodates large groups of visitors interacting with multiple creatures in the gallery setting. A Kinect system detects visitor movement around a hotspot marked on the floor and feeds back to the computer during the live camera feed segments so the tyrannosaurs move as if reacting to the visitor in the space. The 'scripted' and 'live' films together present a unique and believable scenario that tyrannosaurs are with the visitors in the room.
This interactive has proven to be a favourite, voted the 'people's choice' experience in the exhibition as it is surprising and immersive for the visitor and excites audiences of all ages.
Tyrannosaurs thrived for 100 million years and were some of the largest and most successful predators ever. Despite their final demise during one of Earth’s biggest mass extinction events, tyrannosaurs live on – in our imagination, our culture and in their bird cousins in our backyards.
The final part of the exhibition narrative presents the legacy of tyrannosaurs and asks how they still impact our lives. Bringing the story full-circle, it reveals how the latest findings from China are re-writing T. rex's history, before discussing both the extinction of the tyrannosaurs, and how their cousins - the birds - survive today.
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