I remember watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom at my grandparent’s home as a kid and seeing the opening intro with all the animals including the elephant. Never having the chance to see one in person, I have researched to find that the animal can tower over 13 feet tall, which is over double my height.
The Parks and Recreation Dinosaur Exhibit, which starts this weekend, boasts a 12-foot tall Stegodon, or commonly known as the Wooly Mammoth, skeleton that will showcase the “Ice Age and Beyond” themed event for the next two months. I may not be able to feed it peanuts, but I will be able to get a better understanding about the size of the beast similar to the elephant.
“The Ice Age theme has been a real treat for the staff as far as researching and developing the settings,” related Director Mike Book. “We have a ton of fossils on display for the visitors to see and we are extremely proud of the West Virginia fossil collection, which includes the state fossil, the sloth, and the saber-tooth cat.”
Smilodon, which means knife-toothed, roamed the earth during the Pleistocene period, can be found mostly in South and North America including West Virginia, where local Paleontologist Ray Garton founded the first cat in the Mountain State. A full-sized fossil of the cat will be on display for the public.
And to compliment, a 9-foot Megalonyx fossil will be on display as well. For those unaware of this creature, it was founded by Thomas Jefferson in the 1796 in West Virginia. He took a fondness in fossil records research in the Mountain State and aptly named the Sloth (Megalonyx) after finding the claws of the animal.
Lastly, the Dimetrodon, will round out the three full-fossil pieces in Prehistoric West Virginia. The dinosaur lived during the Permian period and was a carnivore that lived in mostly swampy areas. The fan back, or sail, of the reptile was used for heating and cooling. Tracks have been located in parts of Ritchie County.
“As you can see, we have expanded our West Virginia fossils significantly, and students can expect to learn about what roamed the same areas where they live today. We are extremely proud to have this type of museum-quality settings here at the Recreation Complex,” said Book.
Of course, what would a dinosaur display be like without “Tink,” our juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex. Showing up for a second straight year, the 10-foot tall king of the meat-eaters will be a fan-favorite for the young students that pass through.
The exhibit, which runs from February 7th through March 25th, is free of charge to the public and available for showing in the evenings from 4:00-8:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. Weekend hours are noon-6:00 p.m. on Saturday and noon-4:00 on Sunday. Tuesday evenings will be exclusively for groups, and reservations are necessary.
“We not only have museum-quality pieces on site, but we have a wealth of information about the exhibit pieces,” related Book. “Your visit will not only give you many photographic opportunities for you and your family, but also chances to read about the Ice Age era and walk away with a souvenir from our pre-historic store. It will be a great experience for children and parents.”
For more information, please contact the HCPR or visit our Facebook page under Harrison Parks.