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Dinosaur and detective fun in Myrtle Beach

“Dinosaurs – The Exhibition,” located in Heroes Harbor at Broadway at the Beach, is a family-oriented interactive attraction with animatronic dinosaurs like this Tyrannosaurus rex.
“Dinosaurs – The Exhibition,” located in Heroes Harbor at Broadway at the Beach, is a family-oriented interactive attraction with animatronic dinosaurs like this Tyrannosaurus rex. thesunnews.com

In Myrtle Beach this summer, dinosaurs look and sound alive at Broadway at the Beach. And a forensics exhibit in a building nearby is wild with insight on traits that identify every human being.

Go Jurassic at “Dinosaurs – The Exhibition,” between Ripley’s Aquarium and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at the shopping/entertainment complex.

All ages can be awestruck walking through the gallery that features animated models – with eyes and appendages that move – of more than a dozen dinos, including the Tyrannosaurus rex. The way the creatures are set up yields an almost all-around look, going under and around the specimens.

After all, dinosaurs really never get old as a topic: Thanks to fossils and scientific advances, new details continue to emerge about these creatures that roamed millions of years ago, as well as their connections with lizards and birds today.

Standing beside the T. rex, with its mouthful of pearly whites, exhibit general manager Kevin Littlejohn said the replica on display probably reflects the size of a teen, and that a fully grown version – which would not fit in this tall, single-floor building – would boast about 60 teeth, each the size of a banana.

Read up on T. rex tidbits and learn a juvenile would gain 1,000 pounds a year, and later reach running speeds of 15 to 25 mph.

Another carnivore, the Allosaurus, though with smaller teeth, consumed its finds with a wider jaw and an S-shaped neck.

As this story turns into challenging, spelling-test territory, consider some other displays to ogle from multiple perspectives.

Notice how the Ankylosaurus sported a knobby armor back, with ridges resembling, but larger than, a crocodile’s surface, and how this dino evolved with armored eyelids.

Diagonally across the corridor, a Pachyrhinosaurus, a thick-headed lizard, also stands out with its dome-like red-and-orange head. (Littlejohn notes that no one can be sure about the coloration of the actual dinos.)

The Omeisaurus, which would reach more than 60 feet in length and up to 50 feet high, anchors its own room.

A Postosuchus might prompt comparisons to today’s much smaller alligators and crocs, but notice how the front legs are shorter than the rear. Did this monster walk on two limbs or four?

The displays across this exhibition are done in the context of the wild, with waterfall sounds and colorful walls. Combine that with dinosaur movements and calls, and the effect can stimulate all your senses, Littlejohn said.

For families with youngsters, don’t miss the Dig-A-Dino room and birthday party area, with sand-digging for fossils and art activities and a whole wall of coloring pages with kids’ interpretations of dinos. Also, kids can pick up a “Great Dinosaur Hunt!” brochure and search the exhibit to fill in blanks for 20 questions, such as “How many horns did the Triceratops have?”

Forensically speaking

At WonderWorks – site of the newly opened “Forensic Science” wing – Kaitlin Barnes, the attraction’s education sales manager, is well aware of the “CSI” effect and how that branch of science has woven its own web of interest, thanks in part to that TV series as well as other hits such as “NCIS,” “Law & Order” and “Bones.”

WonderWorks is a multistory playground full of science, and the new forensics exhibit fits right in, delving into the process medical examiners use in facial reconstruction to help solve a crime or answer other vital questions.

Barnes said WonderWorks personnel credit the National Center of Missing & Exploited Children and the National Museum of Crime & Punishment, as well as 3DSystems and FaceCheck, for shaping this basic look at forensics and the world of information it entails and encourages.

Three areas make up the “Forensic Science” exhibit:

▪ Facial recognition. When looking in the mirror, are you aware your face contains about 80 landmarks, or nodal points? These include the nose width, distance between the eyes, depth of eye sockets, cheekbone shape and jaw length.

▪ Fingerprint identification. This form of biometrics deals with the groups of ridges and patterns sorted into loops, whorls and arches. Also, identical twins, despite having the same DNA, will not have identical fingerprints.

▪ Facial reconstruction. With this procedure, enhanced by computer technology, a deceased person might be identified – even from just skeletal remains – to help lead to answers in criminal cases and some closure for surviving kin.

Two machines at “Forensic Science” add some fun and intrigue to this exhibit.

For the facial recognition exercise, see a lineup of what famous folks resemble you in some way.

The other interactive element involves pressing a finger on a machine that reads the ridges and punches out a “Fingerprint record,” complete with a booking number. It’s all in fun, with visitors being booked for such crimes as “Singing off key,” “Music too loud, “Texting too much” or “Eating too much candy.”

Science fun on the Strand

“Dinosaurs – The Exhibition” is at the northeast side of the Broadway at the Beach complex, off 21st Avenue North and U.S. 17 Bypass.

Hours:10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily through Aug. 29. Cost: $14.95; $9.95 for ages 3-12; 2 and younger free. Family pass (two adults, two children): $44.95. Details: 888-841-2787; www.dinosaursmb.com.

“Forensic Science” is at Wonderworks, also at Broadway at the Beach (west end, across from the Palace Theatre). Hours: 9 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Cost (includes indoor ropes course): $24.99; $15.99 for ages 4-12 and 60 and older. Various packages available. Details: 843-626-9962; www.wonderworksonline.com/myrtle-beach.

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