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More on the Terror of the South
Here is the news release, reprinted by permission from Karen Kemp
of North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Visit their web site
for more information on the display and the museum.
For immediate release Contact: Karen
Nov. 30, 1998 (919) 733-7450
COLOR SLIDES AVAILABLE
Museum announces plans
for 'Terror of the South' dinosaur exhibit
RALEIGH-A prehistoric battle of dinosaurs will be re-created in the new North
Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences' spectacular Terror of the South exhibit,
complete with sound and special effects, the Museum announced today. The
dramatic scene will take place inside the glass-enclosed dome of the new
Museum and will be visible to passersby outside. The new Museum of Natural
Sciences, under construction next to the existing Museum, will open in the
fall of 1999.
The predatory dinosaur Acrocanthosaurus-the only one of its kind displayed
anywhere in the world-will be shown pursuing its 50-foot-long prey, a
lumbering, plant-eating sauropod. The actual 110-million-year-old bones of
"Acro" will be displayed lunging at the huge, fleshed-out model of the
"People will be awe-struck when they walk into the Museum and see this one-of-
a-kind exhibit," said Museum Director Betsy Bennett. "They'll be immersed in a
scene from the prehistoric past, showing 'Acro' attacking a gigantic, slow-
moving sauropod. They'll be able to walk under and around the huge beasts, and
hear the crack of lightning and the rumble of distant thunder. It's going to
be absolutely breathtaking."
A mural will depict a herd of sauropods observing the attack from a safe
distance. Winged pterosaurs fly overhead and Cretaceous plants complete the
environment. Graphic panels, maps and computer simulations of the attack
explain the scene and tell visitors about the significance of the
Scientists have identified Acrocanthosaurus (ak-ro-KAN-tho-SAWR-us) from only
four specimens. The Museum's is by far the most complete and is the world's
only mountable specimen. Other remains are fragmentary, consisting of a tooth
and a few bones. Not until this specimen was discovered were paleontologists
able to fully describe the species.
Nicknamed the "Terror of the South," Acrocanthosaurus roamed the Earth 45
million years earlier and further south than T. rex. The only giant North
American carnivore of its time, Acrocanthosaurus preyed on dinosaurs much
larger than itself. Its strangest feature was the series of large spines atop
the vertebrae of its back, hips and tail, for which it was named. The muscular
skull measured 4 ½ feet long and the jaw contained 68 thin, knife-like teeth.
Its powerful arms ended in three wickedly curved, scimitar-like claws.
Fearsome Acro stretched nearly 40 feet long.
The "Terror of the South" exhibit is based on research done on 110-million-
year-old dinosaur tracks discovered along the Paluxy River in Texas. Visitors
will see a replica of the trackway in the exhibit. The same tracks are the
focus of a Discovery Channel program, "Dinosaur Attack," parts of which were
filmed at the Museum and on the Cape Fear River in September. That program is
scheduled to air next fall.
"There's nothing like this in North Carolina or anywhere," said Director of
Exhibits Roy Campbell. "Acro will be positioned in a dynamic pose that
illustrates how it hunted. It was the tiger of its day, out there running
things down and eating fresh meat." The Museum worked with Academy Studios
Inc. of Novato, Calif., to design the exhibit. Academy Studios is building
more than 70,000 square feet of dioramas for the new Museum representing
present-day and prehistoric environments.
"This is a real specimen of a rare dinosaur that lived in the South," said
Dale Russell, the Museum's senior curator of paleontology and visiting
professor at North Carolina State University. "The exhibit provides an
opportunity to show people what North Carolina may have looked like over 100
million years ago. We also plan to keep visitors up to date on our ongoing
research on Acro. There's a lot to learn about this fascinating creature. For
instance, we don't really know yet the function of the high spines along its
The Museum's Capital Campaign has raised $24.6 million for new exhibits to
date. The Friends of the Museum are leading the campaign, which is raising
$28.8 million in a public/private partnership. The North Carolina General
Assembly appropriated $31 million for construction of the new Museum and $8.5
million for new exhibits.
The new Museum of Natural Sciences, under construction next to the existing
Museum in downtown Raleigh, is four times larger than the current building.
The new Museum is expected to draw 500,000 visitors each year, who will
contribute an estimated $10 million to the local economy.
Major exhibits in the new building include Mountains to the Sea, Prehistoric
North Carolina, Tropical Connections and Conservatory, Coastal North Carolina,
North Carolina's Natural Treasures, and the Arthropod Zoo. In addition, a
special exhibits gallery will allow the Museum to host blockbuster
international and national traveling
exhibits for the first time. The new building will have a larger Discovery
Room for families and children and a Naturalist Center where backyard
explorers can bring their finds for identification and study. In Windows on
the World, a demonstration theater, scientists and educators will invite the
public to share in experiments. A larger Museum store, nature art gallery and
rooftop café also are in the works.
The North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh
documents and interprets the natural history of the state of North Carolina
through exhibits, research, collections, publications, and educational
programming. It is an agency of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources, Wayne McDevitt, secretary.