In the East Garden of the California Academy of Sciences, where live reindeer are in residence at Christmas, there’s a new special exhibit of dinosaurs.
A temporary addition to the Academy’s many permanent components — including the aquariums, planetarium and rainforest — “Dino Days” has life-size dinosaur models lurking and roaring among the trees.
On the open terrace next to the museum building, a children’s puppet show, informational panels and games deal with the prehistoric “monsters” that ruled the Earth as much as 70 million years ago.
Games such as the T. Rex Volleyball let children experience being a Dino, playing ball with foreshortened arms and claws instead of fingers.
Displaying some smallish dinosaur fossils at a preview event, Peter Roopnarine said the extinct terrestrial reptiles have “captivated our imaginations and sparked our curiosity for generations.”
Roopnarine, curator of the Academy’s Invertebrate Zoology and Geology Department, said the displayed dinosaur “memorabilia” comes from the museum’s vast fossil collection, where there are several million “visible” items and microscopic items in multiples of that.
His work in paleontology, Roopnarine said, is to conduct original research into life in the Earth’s past, ranging anywhere from 12,000 to several billion years. In geology, the focus is on fossils, minerals, gems and meteorites. Dinosaur research encompasses both sciences, and Roopnarine says they constitute “lessons we learn from our evolving world, which can help us better understand our planet in the future.”
“Dino Days” features the so-called Late Cretaceous Period, between 63 million and 135 million years ago, with its star dinosaurs, the Tyrannosaurus rex, great horned Torosaurus, lizard-like Edmontonia, and many more.
Programs during the exhibit include storytelling, a children’s puppet show exploring how fossils are made, daily dance-offs that teach how to move like a pterosaur and dino-inspired crafts.
IF YOU GO
Where: California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, S.F.
When: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays; closes May 5
Admission: $29.95 to $35.95
Contact: (415) 379-8000, www.calacademy.org
Note: Buddy, a T. rex from KQED’s “Dinosaur Train” show, greets guests between 10:30 a.m. and 2:20 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.