After a 6-week journey across the sea from Japan, 3 animatronic dinosaurs have arrived at the Natural History Museum for the Age of the Dinosaur exhibition opening on 22 April.
Camarasaurus, Tarbosaurus and Gallimimus are being prepared for the exhibition that will transport visitors back more than 65 million years to a swamp-like Jurassic lagoon and Cretaceous desert. The lifelike dinosaur models move and make dinosaur noises. They arrived last Friday from the animatronic company Kokoro based in Tokyo.
Getting the models through the huge doors of the Museum was pretty straightforward for Museum staff as they've had plenty of experience getting big dinosaurs into tight spaces, according to exhibition project manager Paul Gallagher.
Workmen carefully move animatronic dinosaur Gallimimus into the Museum © Oli Scarff/ Getty Images
But one dinosaur was not such an easy task. Paul explains, ‘The huge Tarbosaurus weighs 1.5 tonnes and took a team of 8 people with a forklift truck to move it into the Museum safely.’
After constructing a scaffold platform and double-checking measurements, Paul said the Tarbosaurus was carefully squeezed through with just a few centimetres to spare.
Tarbosaurus will be providing a dramatic end to the exhibition, Paul explains. ‘The Tarbosaurus, which is very similar to our T.rex, is very much the star of our exhibition due to its sheer size and its ferocity as one of the top dinosaur predators. And that’s why we’ve left it to last to scare our visitors in the exhibition.’
An animatronic Protoceratops is being flown in from Tokyo after a short delay due to the recent devastating earthquake in Japan. ‘We were really unsure if it would even make the flight at all,’ says Paul. ‘I’m happy to say it did make a slightly later flight which has now landed at Heathrow and we expect it here within the next 2-3 days.’
Museum engineer Martin Kirkby looks into the jaws of Tarbosaurus © Oli Scarff/ Getty Images
There will also be an animatronic Oviraptor and Velociraptor as well as an animatronic Archaeopteryx, the earliest known flying bird that lived 147 million years ago.
Age of the Dinosaurs will also have over 60 specimens and casts on display to help visitors learn more about the diversity of life at this time. They come from the world-class fossil collection of 9 million specimens, looked after by the Museum's Palaeontology Department.
Stunning images, film footage, and fantastic interactive challenges will give the visitor an exciting experience like never before at the Museum.
Georgina Bishop, Interpretation Developer at the Museum explains, 'Everyone loves dinosaurs, don’t they? And where else would you go to find out more about them, but here at the Natural History Museum?
'Complete with sounds, scenery, and scientific specimens, Age of the Dinosaur gives you the chance to really experience the land of these giants – a must for any budding dinosaur experts, young or old.
Paul explains how all the work has been worth the wait. ‘For the past few months I’ve been looking at the photos and listening to the audio tracks of these dinosaurs on my computer, so it was really great to finally open up the sea container outside the Museum and see them all in the (fake) flesh, emerging from the darkness.
‘I have to say I am really impressed by the skin quality and the overall realism of the dinosaurs up close. They really look the part and I can’t wait to get them all up into position to see them moving and enthralling visitors in the exhibition!’
Find out what is going on around the Museum in this blog.
Encounter life on Earth millions of years ago with our latest activity book, Age of the Dinosaur.
Aimed at budding young dino enthusiasts, the book is a great introduction to dinosaurs and the world they lived in. It accompanies our Age of the Dinosaur exhibition, now on tour.