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5 reasons kids will love Living Dinosaurs at the National Aviary

Kristy Locklin
June04/ 2019

Time flies when you’re having fun – especially at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, where you can experience millions of years in a single afternoon. Through Sept. 29, the Aviary will celebrate the fascinating similarities between birds and dinosaurs with the Living Dinosaurs exhibit. Here are five reasons why you should make like a pterodactyl and soar on over to the North Side.

Look up at the life-sized pterodactyl in the Aviary’s atrium. Photo by Adam Wilson.

1. This prehistoric adventure is brand new!

The Aviary’s been around nearly 70 years, but it’s never held an event like this before. During the traveling exhibit’s summer-long run, the whole building will boast Mesozoic-era displays, including real fossils, touchable replicas and a life-sized pterosaur sculpture that hangs in the Atrium.

Paleoartist Brian Engh crafted the creature with a six-foot wingspan to highlight common characteristics between dinos and birds. Another artist, Luis Rey, colorfully depicts “thunder lizards” caring for their young, just as modern-day robins tend to her chicks.

2. Kids love dinosaurs and the Aviary loves kids!

Learning about ancient reptiles – and their feathered descendants – is fun. Just ask any 8-year-old. At the outdoor Dino Discovery Camp, pint-sized paleontologists can explore dig pits, relax in life-size egg nests, don costumes, play games and make their own clay fossil craft. Ty, a baby T-Rex that blinks and roars, makes an appearance daily at 11 a.m. for story time in the Rose Garden. Kids will have so much fun they won’t even realize they’re getting an education.

Meet Joanie, a Wattled Currasow.

3. Visit members of the dinosaur family tree.

Dinosaurs are extinct, but you can still hang out with their kin. Aviary ornithologist Bob Mulvihill, along with a team of trained volunteers and educators, conduct Fossils & Feathers Tours to point out birds with adaptations that are similar to dinosaurs.

While all birds are descendants of a type of dinosaur called Therapods, the closest relatives include waterfowl, flamingos, turacos and egrets, among others. One of the staff’s favorite living dinosaur is a Wattled Currasow named Joanie. A very noticeable bird with a personality to match, she can often be seen strutting across the railing of the Wetlands habitat.

Kids will have hands-on fun with activities like dinosaur costumes, life-sized nests, dig pits and a fossil puzzle. Photos by Adam Wilson.

4. The full-body flight simulator soars above a Jurassic world!

The sky’s the limit with Birdly, a virtual reality flight experience. Through a head-mounted display, motion table that records body movements and 3-D audio, kids are immersed in a high-resolution landscape that gives them a bird’s eye view of the Jurassic period. For $5 a ride, kids can feel like one of the Aviary’s winged residents. They might want to keep their heads in the clouds all day.

5. Shop for dinosaur goodies!

Commemorate your Jurassic adventure with a keepsake. The Aviary gift shop is stocked with new toys, puzzles, activities and apparel for the dinosaur fanatic in your life.

Kristy Locklin

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