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MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY Exhibit explores newest discoveries of fair-feathered dinosaurs

Thursday, February 24, 2005

CLEVELAND -- Feathered dinosaurs have landed at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and curator Dr. Michael Ryan couldn't be happier.
"What I'm telling everybody is that all birds are dinosaurs, even though not all dinosaurs are birds," Ryan said.
Beginning in the middle 1990s with the discovery of feathered fossils in China, theories in paleontology have undergone major revision. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History exhibit "Feathered Dinosaurs: The Bird/Dinosaur Connection," appearing now through May 29, details the new findings.
'Fossils still do it'
"One of the most interesting things that has happened is a little feathered dinosaur described in the last year by the Chinese scientists called Delong is actually the direct ancestor to Tyrannosaurus Rex," Ryan said. "It too has feathers, or at least a sort of a downy covering on it. In our show, we actually have juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex robotic models with downy feathers on them."
The 4,500-square-foot exhibition presents the latest findings and investigates the dinosaur/bird evolution through the use of robotic and stationary models and graphics. But whereas the museum's impressive dinosaur fossils once enthralled Northeast Ohio youths by their presence alone, does the GameBoy age require robotic dinosaurs to accomplish the same goal?
"I think fossils still do it," Ryan said. "There are millions of different types of video games out there and fossils are still relatively rare. And the opportunity to see an original fossil is extremely rare."
High-tech displays
He added, "We're presenting cutting-edge science and putting it together in a fun package. So, we have the actual hard science there of why birds are related to dinosaurs -- what the fossil evidence is showing us -- but we've wrapped it up in a package that includes the robotic and animatronic dinosaurs that the kids are going to love."
In any case, from the casual observer to the dinosaur hobbyist, the current Cleveland Museum of Natural History exhibit pokes many holes into the stone-age cartoon "The Flintstones," which is where many baby boomers first learned about dinosaurs.