Friday, September 23, 2011

Prehistory – Permian Period and a visit to the museum

We continued our prehistory study with the Permian period.  This was the age of the first reptiles.

We started by discussing our Charlie’s Playhouse Ancient Creature Cards and matching them up to our timeline.  The kids love doing this and Georgie really stretches his reading skills trying to read the captions.

We also read the appropriate pages in our Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History and followed one of the link to see what it looks like inside a reptile egg. 

Since we will next be entering the Age of the Dinosaurs – the Mesozoic Era consisting of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods – we took the opportunity to finally go and check out the new dinosaur exhibit at our local museum.

For some reason I thought the museum opened at 10am so we arrived around 10:30.  Turns out they didn’t open until 11 but the person working the front desk allowed us to hang out in the lobby while we waited.  Very nice of him considering there was torrential rain going outside but the lobby is a cavernous space where every sound echoes and my kids are not known for being quiet. 

The lobby of the museum has images of various dinosaur skeletons printed on the floor.  The kids had fun pretending to search for the bones and excavate them.  Here they are using their pretend brushes to clear the dirt away from their specimen.


Once 11:00 rolled around we went right upstairs to the dinosaur exhibit.  There’s was a lot of interactive stuff for the kids to do.  A lot of the exhibits centered around fossils and dinosaurs that were found in New Jersey, especially the official state dinosaur – the hadrosaurus.   A hadrosaurus found in Haddonfield New Jersey was one of the first reasonably intact dinosaur skeletons ever found and was also one of the first ever put on display.  Hadrosaurus was a duck-billed, bipedal, herbivorous dinosaur.

The first exhibit we saw was a replica of a maiasaurus nest.  Maiasaurus was a duck-billed dinosaur belonging to the hadrosaurus family.  These dinosaurs raised young in nesting colonies and there is evidence that the adult dinosaurs bought food to the newly hatched younglings.  The kids were able to climb into the nest and play with puppets of hatching dinosaurs.


After climbing out of the nest, the kids were able to feel a real fossilized dinosaur egg and see what it would look like inside the egg.



There were a couple of exhibit cases that showed the different movements of hand claws versus foot/heel claws.


They were able to simulate the noise that would be heard by sound being amplified through the hadrosaurus’ large nasal passages.

The wall of the exhibit was a beautiful mural of what New Jersey would likely have looked like during the Cretaceous period.  There were also microscopes hooked up to a television screen that could be used to get close-up views of fossils and an assortment of larger fossils to look at.  The new exhibit was a lot of fun and I’m sure we’ll return again as we progress through our dinosaur study.

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