Dinosaurs at the Smithsonian

Dinosaurs at the Smithsonian

by C.S. MacCath

During the 2016 holiday season, I went to Washington DC for a week on business. While there, I toured the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and in particular, an exhibit called The Last American Dinosaurs: Discovering a Lost World, which you can learn more about by visiting the museum’s exhibit page here.
The exhibit is on the second floor, behind a display of Egyptian mummies, near the back of the museum. The first thing I saw when I walked in was a TyrannosaurusRexmassive Triceratops, in particular its horns and huge eye sockets, which were bigger than my fists. Its body nearly ran the length of the wall with a barrel chest, heavy legs, and long tail. But the most impressive display in the exhibit was that of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, all teeth and bone and towering over everything else. It made me feel small and glad I wasn’t a prey animal living in North America during a time when those bones were much more than a display.

If memory serves, all of the displays were recreated from dinosaur skeletons in the Smithsonian’s collection, so I didn’t get to see any actual dinosaur bones, which stands to reason. Those are hard-earned pieces of natural history and quite fragile, so I imagine the museum has them locked away in a temperature-controlled vault. However, there was windowed laboratory at the back of the exhibit where dinosaur researchers were working, so I was able to watch them for awhile. That was really fascinating.

TriceratopsThe educational materials about the dinosaurs were geared toward children. There were descriptions of the skeletons, audiovisual aids, and tactile displays that invited patrons to touch them. All of the children there were excited, and indeed I heard children all over the museum asking to go see the dinosaurs. Clearly, the Smithsonian knows its target audience! That said, there was a real sense of wonder in the exhibit, a “Look here, and here, and here! Aren’t dinosaurs cool?” sensibility that was entirely infectious. I have a great love for the Smithsonian Museum, and this amazing exhibit is just one reason why.

So there. I’ve told you something cool about real dinosaurs, even though there aren’t any real dinosaurs in my story “D is for Duel/One Who Dies as a God Dies,” or at least, no real dinosaurs in the way you might think. But you’ll have to read the story itself if you want to know more than that. 😉

 

C.S. MacCath is a PhD student of Folklore and a writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry whose work has been shortlisted for the Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award, nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and nominated for the Rhysling Award. Her first collection, The Ruin of Beltany Ring, has been called ‘wonderful, thoroughly engaging, always amazing’ and a book of ‘tiny marvels’. Advance reviewers have called her second collection, The Longest Road in the Universe, ‘a vivid, epic and touching journey’, ‘elegant and elegiac’, and ‘packed full of lush worlds, lyrical prose, three-dimensional characters and honest emotions’. She lives in Atlantic Canada, which might just be far enough north for her tastes, unless something opens up in Iceland.


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