Children / China / Culture / Dinosaurs / Fun / Hong Kong / Living in Hong Kong / Recreation / Science

Cretaceous Park … at the Hong Kong Science Museum

Ah the Hong Kong Science Museum. Possibly one of my sprogs favourite places to venture in Tsim Sha Tsui. I’ve talked about it before, and I’m going to mention it again as it currently has a Dinosaur exhibition running until April.

Who doesn’t LOVE dinosaurs. They inspire and intrigue us. They make us question life, this planet and history. Whether you believe in evolution or creationism they are a perplexingly interesting group of creatures to explore. I’ve loved dinosaurs since I was very young and even studied palaeontology at university. I never dug up a dinosaur; the closest I ever found was a Jurassic era shark tooth in Port Waikato.

My kids love dinosaurs too and so, it seems, do a lot of other kids and adults alike given the popularity of the Dinosaur exhibition when we visited last week. We had to queue up for entry despite the fact the dinosaurs have been on display since November. The exhibit costs HK$20 per adult, HK$10 for children. Entering through a separate gate within the science museum the exhibition encompasses the entire bottom floor.

It starts with a short video showing various dinosaurs (mostly from the Cretaceous period) roaming the landscape in China. Once this is finished you move on to some animatronic dinosaurs showing what the dinosaurs ate based on the design of their skulls. The dinosaurs shown were all ‘mainstream’ dinosaurs – eg Brachiosaurus and Tyrannosaur. It gave the kids an immediately relatable introduction fto the dinosaur world. Mitchell felt like he was watching a real life Jurassic Park with a grin from ear to ear when he discovered the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

A range of animatronic dinosaurs followed, including a velociraptor the kids could use a pointer to touch in various areas to elicit a reaction. Their favourite was the tyrannosaurus (once again) as they could actually control its reaction to people from a separate control area hidden around a corner. They delighted in scaring people with movement and roars.

With lots of interactive displays involving the animatronic dinosaurs the kids had a great time. However whilst I can kind of understand looking at Ankylosaur poop I did find the idea of a Triceratops farting a little on the strange side…

A digital dig area allowed the kids to dig up a virtual fossil using computer animation as well as look at and touch replica claws and teeth. My kids were fascinated by the differences and started asking loads of great questions which can be applied even to animals living today.

After exploring dig sites the largest hall was reserved for the fossilised bones. Whilst most of the skeletons were replicas they were still an awe inspiring sight. The large dinosaurs towered over everyone and gave a real perspective of just how big these suckers were.

Once again the mainstream dinosaurs were well represented along with early birds, eggs, and even a mesosaur. What I really liked about the displays was the fact lesser known Chinese equivalent dinosaurs were also on display.

Right next to a display of a Stegosaurus and an Allosaurus were these two. The dinosaur on the left is a Chinese relative of the Stegosaurus and the handsome skeleton on the right is a Chinese relative of the Allosaurus. The kids could then think about similarities and differences. They could contemplate evolution and global separation as they learnt about Gondwanaland and the movement of the continents. The questions and discussions we had in front of various skeletons was fabulous as they thought about everything they were seeing. They found the whole experience a real adventure and the excitement on their faces was evident.

Outside the museum is this big guy. Daxiatitan binglingi was hovering around the trees next to an overpass trying to eat the branches – yep – this monster was an animatronic sauropod towering over everyone and everything.

This exhibit is well worth going to. The entry fee is ridiculously cheap and the displays are very engaging for both children and adults. We spent a good 3 hours going through the exhibits and discussing various aspects of life for dinosaurs as well as individual dinosaurs. I suppose I am lucky though as dinosaurs are something both my children are passionate about, curious about and had a lot of interest and questions for. When my son’s teacher asked him what his favourite part of the Christmas holidays was, he proudly wrote it was being able to see the dinosaurs at the museum. Not presents, not movies, not Transformers … I was impressed!

The “Legends of the Giant Dinosaurs” Exhibition is only running until the 9th of April 2014, so make sure to head over and check it out before it disappears.

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