MAN CRE­ATES DI­NOSAURS

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - Front Page - By Phillip Valys

Crews with the Lost World Stu­dio and Flamingo Gar­dens in­stall a replica Al­losaurus for the new “Lost World of Di­nosaurs” ex­hibit at Flamingo Gar­dens in Davie. The show fea­tures 27 re­al­is­tic-look­ing di­nosaur mod­els nes­tled in dif­fer­ent Florida habi­tats around the botan­i­cal gar­dens.

As the truck rum­bled past the ham­mock of a mighty live oak at Flamingo Gar­dens in Davie, nearby pea­cocks ruf­fled their feath­ers at the com­mo­tion, alarmed as they were by the sight of a 10-foot-tall di­nosaur strapped to the flatbed.

The pre­his­toric crea­ture, an Al­losaurus – a model replica brought to life with fiber­glass and pho­to­re­al­is­tic paint – lurched to a stop next to an­other shady oak be­hind the Flamingo Gar­dens gift shop. Work­ers hoisted the red-and-beige dino into po­si­tion be­neath the tree. Its builder, artist and pa­le­on­tol­o­gist Guy Dar­rough, leapt out of a golf cart with a hand towel and wiped the Al­losaurus’ wide, red nos­trils.

“I’m re­mov­ing di­nosaur boogers,” Dar­rough jokes. “No, re­ally, they get a lit­tle dirty in be­tween ex­hi­bi­tions. And then we re-paint them so they look as pris­tine as pos­si­ble.”

For the next five months, the dino replica and its brood – three baby Al­losauruses – will greet vis­i­tors at the wildlife sanc­tu­ary as part of its “Lost World of Di­nosaurs” ex­hi­bi­tion, open­ing Satur­day, May 25. The trav­el­ing ex­hi­bi­tion, run­ning un­til Sept. 2, brings 27 of Dar­rough’s di­nosaur mod­els to Flamingo Gar­dens, each nes­tled in­side the var­i­ous botan­i­cal habi­tats.

“Lost World of Di­nosaurs” will be paired with a com­pan­ion show, “Echoes of Ex­tinc­tion,” a dis­play of

re­cently dis­cov­ered di­nosaur fos­sils, in­clud­ing a three-foot-long tibia bone of a Dako­tara­p­tor that the pub­lic can touch.

Here’s ev­ery­thing you need to know about Flamingo Gar­dens’ di­nosaur in­va­sion.

Guy Dar­rough made all th­ese di­nosaurs?

He did. A lit­tle back­ground: Dar­rough, who lives out­side St. Louis, Mo., is a vet­eran pa­le­on­tol­o­gist who has har­vested spec­i­mens from across the United States, Canada and Morocco. He turned his 40 years of fos­sil-hunt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence into a com­pany, Lost World Stu­dios, which builds fiber­glass di­nos from scratch.

Dar­rough says he cut his teeth sell­ing newly dis­cov­ered fos­sils to mu­se­ums, but de­cided he pre­ferred mak­ing di­nosaurs. “I re­mem­ber my par­ents, who hunted an­te­lope and moose, gave me an Al­losaurus as a child­hood toy,” Dar­rough re­calls, point­ing to his replica. “Now I make life­size ones.”

Wasn’t ‘Lost World of Di­nosaurs’ at Flamingo Gar­dens be­fore?

It was, in 2017, and closed one week be­fore the ar­rival of Hur­ri­cane Irma, Dar­rough says. The orig­i­nal ex­hibit fea­tured 13 di­nosaur repli­cas blended into the sanc­tu­ary’s habi­tats and con­tained no fos­sil ex­hibit.

Did di­nosaurs ex­ist here?

That would’ve been im­pos­si­ble, says Cori Glick, the sanc­tu­ary’s spe­cial events man­ager. Florida was un­der wa­ter 100 mil­lion years ago, when the Earth’s con­ti­nents first be­gan drift­ing apart, so none of the di­nosaurs dwelling at Flamingo Gar­dens

would have been ex­posed to South Florida plant life. In plac­ing the di­nos around the gar­dens, “We had to con­sider safe zones where kids wouldn’t be tempted to climb the di­nosaur,” Glick says while in­stalling the repli­cas on Wed­nes­day. “We had to imag­ine places that the di­nosaurs would have ap­pre­ci­ated be­ing in. It’s not hard to find good spots.”

For ex­am­ple, a 32-foot-long Das­ple­tosaurus replica, a T. Rex rel­a­tive and a top-of-the-food-chain car­ni­vore, will be hid­den amid a clus­ter fig tree so it ap­pears to be “stomp­ing out of the fo­liage,” Glick says. Flamingo Gar­dens’ koi pond, near the prop­erty’s his­toric Wray House, will be­come the tem­po­rary home of the Quet­zal­coatlus, a wa­ter-lov­ing, pre­his­toric rep­tile with a duck bill and a gi­raffe-size neck.

You can touch the bones?

Sure – and it’s com­pletely safe, says pa­le­on­tol­o­gist Robert DePalma, an ad­junct pro­fes­sor of ge­o­log­i­cal science at Florida At­lantic Univer­sity. Hu­man hands may have oily glands, but they’re noth­ing com­pared to mil­lions of years of earth­quakes and floods that have weath­ered the bones, he says.

On dis­play in “Echoes of Ex­tinc­tion” are fos­sil skele­tons of a baby Tricer­atops and an adult Ed­mon­tosaurus skull with its eye socket par­tially dam­aged. “It was at­tacked by a T. rex,” DePalma, of Boca Ra­ton, says, pick­ing up a par­tial Ed­mon­tosaurus tail­bone. “The di­nosaur ripped out the eye socket, and look, here’s the ev­i­dence: jammed in the tail­bone is a pre­served T. rex tooth.”

There also is a five-foot-long fos­sil leg of a Dako­tara­p­tor, a re­cently dis­cov­ered di­nosaur DePalma found in South Dakota in 2005. There will also be 3D-printed repli­cas of 66 mil­lion-year-old pollen, along with fos­silized plants.

TAIMY ALVAREZ/SUN SENTINEL

TAIMY ALVAREZ/SUN SENTINEL

Pa­le­on­tol­o­gist and Florida At­lantic Univer­sity ad­junct pro­fes­sor Robert DePalma talks about the Nan­otyran­nus, left, and baby Tricer­atops.

TAIMY ALVAREZ/SUN SENTINEL

Artist Guy Dar­rough brushes a di­nosaur replica clean be­fore it is in­stalled in the new “Lost World of Di­nosaurs” ex­hibit.

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