Heritage Center Prepares Two New Exhibits - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Heritage Center Prepares Two New Exhibits

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The State Historical Society invested two years and $7.7 million in the Heritage Center Expansion Project. And in a few weeks, the public will be able to take advantage of two new exhibits.

The Heritage Center opens on April 28. And one of their latest exhibits has been 65 million years in the making.

"This shows them up close how big they are, how truly massive, and how dominant they must have been when they ruled the earth. And just to have these full-sized models is just an amazing thing for us to have here," says the director of the State Historical Society Merlan Paaverud.

The new Paleo exhibit has a true-scale Tyranasaurus Rex and a triceratops. And many displays combine today's technology with the prehistoric past.

"This would actually show how they look with skin and moving and fighting in some cases. So, it's really been a great addition for people to see that," says Paaverud.

Walking through the exhibit is like stepping back in time. Sabertooth tigers battle bison.
And Pterydatcls feed their young. But, the most valuable exhibit is an iconic North Dakota fossil.

Dakota is a 65-million-year-old duckbilled dinosaur that was discovered near Marmoth, 15 years ago.

"This particular specimen is highly unusual because of two reasons. One is that most of the skeleton is preserved, and the other reason is that it's mummified. In other words, there's some of the skin. About half the animal, the skin is still preserved on, which is a very rare occurrence," says paleontologist John Hoganson.

Only a half a dozen fossils with preserved skin have been found anywhere in the world.
And the rare fossil is helping paleontologists learn more about the prehistoric creatures.

"Already, it's been determined that this species of dinosaur was a much faster runner than initially thought. And that's because we were able to determine the musculature of the legs particularly better by looking at the skin itself," says Hoganson.

Dakota is guaranteed to be on display until 2015. But, the State Historical Society is hoping to raise enough money to make it a permanent display.

Two books and several scientific articles have been written on Dakota the dinosaur. And it has even been the star of a National Geographic documentary. Officials are negotiating a $3 million deal to keep Dakota on permanent display.

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