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January 12, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

A 40-foot long Acrocanthosaurus cast skeleton, a walk-through maze, and real dinosaur fossil bones are all awaiting visitors to the Virginia Museum of Natural History when the museum opens its newest special exhibits, “Dinosaurs” and “Dinosaur Discovery”, on Saturday, January 12. To celebrate the opening of the exhibits, which are open through August 25, 2013, the museum is hosting the Dino Day family festival on January 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors on opening day will have access to all of the museum’s exhibits, as well as dinosaur-themed games, activities, crafts and special presentations by renowned paleontologists.

The dinosaur exhibits bring spectacular displays of life-size cast skeletons, as well as real fossil bones of a variety of dinosaurs that roamed Earth during the Mesozoic era, a timeframe that stretched from approximately 250 million years ago to 65 million years ago. Among the life-size cast skeletons on display are some of the most ferocious and carnivorous dinosaurs to roam the planet, including a 40-foot long skeleton cast of an Acrocanthosaurus and a 12-foot long skeleton cast of the meat-eating Deinonychus.

Included within the “Dinosaur Discovery” exhibit is a walk-through maze, consisting of a series of dinosaur murals on the inner-walls of the maze, as well as dinosaur specimens and interactive elements awaiting participants at nearly every “wrong” turn.

The exhibits also display dozens of real dinosaur fossils, some of which include a Stegasaurus shoulder blade and Diplodocid thigh bones.

Additionally, the exhibit marks the return of one of the museum's most popular displays ever to be exhibited, "Cera" the animatronic Triceratops. With a push of a button, “Cera” moves about for visitors.

During the Dino Day family festival, the museum is offering a unique opportunity for visitors to witness the opening of a field jacket containing the fossil bones of a Triceratops skull. Field jackets are used by paleontologists to safely secure and remove fossils from the ground, as well as keep them secure while being stored. The opening of the jacket is tentatively scheduled for 11 a.m. and will allow visitors to be among some of the first people to ever see these fossils, which will be reconstructed by museum curators in the coming months.

Dino Day also offers visitors two morning presentations geared toward children and youth. “A Dinosaur Named Nancy" will be presented at 10:30 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. by Dr. Vince Schneider, curator of paleontology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
A presentation at 2 p.m. will be available for more advanced audiences when Dr. Alton Dooley, curator of paleontology at VMNH, presents "Ghost Strata: Determining the Age and Depositional History of the Carmel Church Quarry".

Games, crafts ,and other activities will take place throughout the festival for all visitors to enjoy. The museum also encourages all festival-goers to come dressed as their favorite dinosaur to receive a special prize while supplies last. Additionally, the museum’s PALEO Café and Museum Store will be open to serve all visitors throughout the day.

The “Dinosaurs” and “Dinosaur Discovery” exhibits are sponsored in part by SunTrust and the Martinsville-Henry County Rotary Club.