Sunday, March 30, 2008

Prehistoric...Live

We went to the Mullins Center at UMass this afternoon...



We came to see Walking With Dinosaurs - The Live Experience. I wasn't too sure what to expect, having only seen a quick blurb about it on some Discovery Channel show. The thing that made it seem interesting to me is first, that it was all animatronics. Not wire guided puppets, but self contained, self propelled animal robots. Second, they looked like good animatronics. the movement and speed of the robots looked quick and natural. Not choppy and slow like some old Disney World exhibit about presidents, or the Chuck E Cheese band. And they were life-size. This was state of the art animatronics. It looked pretty good, good enough to get some tickets when I heard it was coming around here.

We weren't disappointed. The bigger dinosaurs rode on small man-driven carts underneath, and the smaller dinosaurs had people inside. But, the dinosaurs' other attributes, and the lighting, were enough to make it easy to blank those things out. With a little imagination, you were looking into the past.

Throughout the show a historian/scientist guided the audience through the eons. Kind of an Indiana Jones/ safari type type character. He also provided scale to the immense size of the ancient beasts. The show started out with the Plateosaurus, a herbivore from 216 million years ago. I was impressed with the animatronics. Then they brought out the the popular Stegosaurus, who set about "eating" the vegetation around the arena. But what's a dinosaur show without the carnivores? Out came the Allosaurus, often confused with it's more famous relative, the T-Rex.

The Allosaurus immediately engaged in a life and death struggle with the Stegosaurus, who swung it's spiked tail in stout defence.




The Stegosaurus's plates turned bright red, as blood flows into them when the animal became excited. Hmm. I didn't realize Dinosaur blood was red.

After that excitement, they brought out the gentle but massive Brachiosaurus, or rather a 'baby' Brachiosaurus. Still massive. It wasn't long before the Allosourus came out for another try at fresh meat. This time though, Momma Brachiosaurus came to the young one's rescue. This dinosaur was big.



She heroically chased the Allosaurus away from her young.





Then came a 20 minute intermission, and about 50 million years passed. The show started back up with an example of how the winged Ornithocheirus would glide in between the separating continents, after the break up of the great land mass of Pangaea.



Meanwhile the small, quick Utahraptors hunted in packs...






About this time, flower growth and insects bloomed. Even the dung beetle, which survives today, as our host showed us with a big round dinosaur dropping.



As the carnivores became smarter and more and more vicious, the herbivores began to get more and more heavily armored. Enter the Torosauruses, with their huge horns and shield-like plates behind their heads. Two of them came out, for a demonstration of a young upstart taking on the old leader for control of the herd.




Armored herbivores reached their peak with the development of the Ankylosaurus. Even it's eyelids were armored. It also had a heavy hammer-like appendage at the end of it's tail for defense.





Kind of reminded me of the 'Thing' from the Fantastic Four comics. With all this armor, the hunter/hunted race accelerated yet again, and pinnacled with the development of...wait for it...

The mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex.



The King of Dinosaurs came rushing out in defense of it's baby, a miniature version of herself that had become lost among the Torosaurus and Ankylosaurus. It was funny to hear the young one's plaintive yelps, in between the deafening roars of it's mother.

After an epic battle, it all came to a sudden crashing halt, with the impact of a 6 mile wide asteroid.



Darkness and smoldering fire ensued for millions of years...



Until the small furry mammals came to reign. Meanwhile the dinosaurs, far from disappearing, became smaller and smaller. They became the birds we have flying around today. Ironically, as we exited the building, we were greeted with flocks of geese flying by...



Still here....

2 comments:

Mary E.Carey said...

Wonderful! I wasn't tempted to see this show but your summary was so enjoyable.

Tommy said...

Tyrannosaurus Rex was destroyed before
By a furry little ball that crawled along
The primeval jungle floor
And he stole the eggs of the dinosaur
CLOSE YOUR EYES & CREATE THE SOUND
OPEN YOUR HANDS & REBUILD THE GROUND
We are egg snatchers -
flashin' sunshine children
We are diamond thieves

Paul Kantner