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Dinosaur Museum Lumbers to Life Near Salt Lake City

July 01, 2001|JANE ENGLE

The North American Museum of Ancient Life, which claims to have more dinosaur skeletal exhibits than any museum in the world, officially opens Saturday at the Thanksgiving Point complex near Lehi, about a 20-minute drive south of Salt Lake City.

The museum last year opened its first phase: a temporary children's activity area, a 325-seat big-screen theater, a store and a cafe.

Saturday marks the opening of the bulk of the exhibits at the museum, which cost about $24 million and sprawls over 122,000 square feet.

It displays more than 60 dinosaur skeletons and casts, including two of Tyrannosaurus rex , a 110-foot-long Supersaurus and a pterosaur flying reptile with a 39-foot wingspan.

Visitors can walk through Jurassic and Cretaceous-style habitats, with murals, greenery and sounds designed to evoke geologic eras that date back 190 million years.

Although the dinosaurs are apt to be the most popular subjects, the museum also has more than 800 small fossils, such as insects, dating to the Middle Cambrian period, about 550 million years ago.

Utah is a popular destination for paleontologists and amateur dinosaur fans alike. Many ancient remains were discovered in the state, which has several other exhibits and displays devoted to dinosaurs, notably Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal.

The North American Museum of Ancient Life is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; it is closed Sundays.

The children's activities area closes Saturday when the rest of the museum debuts.

Entrance fees, which had been $3, will increase Saturday to $9 for adults and $7 for children ages 12 and under.

A combination ticket that includes the exhibits and the big-screen movie is $14 for adults, $11 for children. Telephone (801) 766-5000, Internet http://www.dinosaurpoint.com.

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