High-flying pre-historic exhibit at the Frost Science Museum opens

Pteerosaurs exhibit at Frost Science Museum has visitors piloting through virtual prehistoric landscapes
Pteerosaurs exhibit at Frost Science Museum has visitors piloting through virtual prehistoric landscapes

MIAMI, Fla. – Skip Uricchio, the senior director of animal and museum exhibitions at the Frost Museum of Science, says the museum hasn’t done a big dinosaur show, but if they were going to have their first than “Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs” is a great way to start.

Organized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Uricchio says there’s plenty to do and see in the largest exhibition about the prehistoric flying reptiles ever mounted in the United States. The exhibit opened at the Miami science museum on Saturday and will be on view through Sept. 6.

“The flying reptiles are related to dinosaurs and they range from ones that were the size of a sparrow to others with wingspans of over 33 feet,” Uricchio says.

Uricchio says that despite misconceptions, the pterosaurs were not dinosaurs, but were the first vertebrate animals to evolve powered flight and spread across the planet over a period of 150 million years until they became extinct 66 million years ago.

“They were flying around when dinosaurs were roaming around,” he says.

The exhibit features the range of the pterosaurs from pint-size to truly gargantuan.

“The models are a lot of fun and they are brilliantly colored,” Uricchio says. The can’t-miss models are the colossal Tropeognathus mesembrinus, with a wingspan of more than 25 feet, soaring overhead and the sparrow-size Nemicolopterus crypticus, with a wingspan of 10 inches, to a full-size model of a 33-foot-wingspan Quetzalcoatlus northropi—the largest pterosaur species known to date, about the size of a two-seater plane.

Another big draw in the exhibit is the interactive “Fly Like a Pterosaur,” where visitors can pilot two species of the flying reptiles over prehistoric landscapes in a whole-body interactive exhibit that uses motion-sensing technology.

Five interactive iPad stations offer visitors the inside scoop on different pterosaur species with animations of pterosaurs flying, walking and eating, and multi-layered interactives that allow users to explore pterosaur fossils.

“There are also real fossils casts on display from Italy, Germany, China, Brazil and the United Kingdom,” according to Uricchio.

The senior director adds that the museum is still strictly maintaining COVID-19 protocols, including constant disinfection of the iPad stations, social distancing as visitors wait in line to participate in the interactive displays, and mask mandates indoors.

“We have indoor mask mandates, and we recommend that our guests wear masks in the outdoor areas,” he says.

Uricchio says a good companion to see while at the museum is the Feathers to the Stars exhibition. It’s about the evolution of flight from dinosaurs to the space age, how dinosaurs evolved into birds and it’s a really good segue.”

He says that the science museum in Miami is really different than most throughout the U.S., which is what makes it unique. “We’re this hybrid because we’re an aquarium, which usually stands alone, and we’re a planetarium, as well as a science museum.”

“Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs” will be on view from Saturday, May 15 through Monday, September 6, 2021 inside the Hsiao Family Special Exhibition Gallery on the first floor of the museum, located at 1101 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. For info on tickets and the exhibition, visit frostscience.org/pterosaurs.

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