MAN CREATES DINOSAURS
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.
Paleontologist and Florida Atlantic University adjunct professor Robert DePalma talks about the Nanotyrannus, left, and baby Triceratops.
Artist Guy Darrough brushes a dinosaur replica clean before it is installed in the new “Lost World of Dinosaurs” exhibit.