Everyone’s a Palaeontologist at DinoQuest
With the advent of augmented reality, interactive game design and advanced animatronics, exhibitions are no longer passive affairs limited to only reading and watching. From 1 June to 31 August, visit Science Centre Singapore and you’ll be able to enjoy an interactive, experiential multimedia journey as an apprentice to famous palaeontologist, Emerita Professor Patricia Vickers-Rich and Thomas Rich while uncovering the fossils that will reveal the truths behind the lives of Australian polar dinosaurs that lived millions of years ago in the Cretaceous period.
Two years in the making, the DinoQuest Travelling Exhibition is a 2,000 square metre interactive exhibit curated by Professor Pat, who provided the expert knowledge and collection of fossils with multi-sensory technology provided by Digimagic Communications and the immersive fossil sites designed by Dezign Format. Designed like a theme park discovery adventure tour, you are handed RF ID tags at the beginning of the tour that will allow you to follow the adventures of Professor V and Rex as you take in information along the many interactive stations to discover important clues that will help you uncover the fossil you are digging through in your journey.
Split up into different zones, the journey felt like a walking jaunt through a fossil dig and reminded me of the delightful Indiana Jones theme park ride at Universal Studios. The adventure starts off at Zone 1: The Explorer’s Hut where you are introduced to your holographic guides, Professor V and her assistant Rex and the quest that led to the discovery of Australia’s first dinosaur fossil – the Polar Dinosaurs of Australia.
Zone 2 leads you to the Dinosaur of Darkness, a projection show with animatronics and 4D elements where you get to explore Australia in the early cretaceous period and come face to face with the Koolasuchus, Ankylosaur, Leaellynasaura, Pterosaur and Timimus, the dinosaur discovered by Professor Pat and her husband Professor Rich, which they named after their son Tim and Tim Flannery, an Australian mammologist and paeleontologist who was instrumental in the discovery of Australia’s dinosaur fossils as well.
At each station, you get to take a further step forward in your quiz to chip away at your “electronic fossil” with your RF ID tag and discover what clues lie ahead. In Zone 3: Extinction Theatre, you get to see an immersive 4D theatre that shows you how the dinosaurs were wiped out with a haze of smoke, sound and lightning.
An actual replica of a dig site greets you at Zone 4: Dig Site where you can have a go at digging with a jack hammer while taking in a hologram show of how fossils are formed and how different parts of a dinosaur’s anatomy is identified.
At Zone 5, you finally get into the laboratory of Professor V, which allows you to get hands on with actual rock digging tools and look through microscopes to see what dinosaur cells look like.
Dinosaur skeletons found at Dinosaur Cove are lovingly replicated here at Zone 6: Dinosaur Dreaming, which takes you to the 1994 discovery of Dinosaur Cove in Australia where Timimus, a tyrannosauroid was discovered.
At Zone 7, Activity Zone, you can get hands on to create new dinosaurs species by doodling and bringing them to life at the virtual animated Dinosaur Park, where you can even print out your dinosaur doodle.
As I sat down with Professor Pat after uncovering my fossil at the end of the exhibition, I had the opportunity to pick her brain on how one gets to be a palaeontologist. Prof Pat revealed her interest in biodiversity and how her interest in birds led her to the study of dinosaurs. According to Prof Pat, palaeontology, the study of dinosaurs and their history, like archaeology, the study of man’s history through the discovery of fossils and artefacts, requires very broad-based knowledge of all sciences like geology, biology, meteorology and an ability to collaborate with scientists from all fields. Her advice to all budding palaeontologists out there was to explore all fields of scientific study, to remain curious about all things and continue to learn. Although not all of us will end up a palaeontologist, the learning journey we will have embarked on will continue to enrich us in whatever fields we eventually choose to pursue.