Academy of Natural Sciences showcases the dinosaur

February 26, 2013 5:58:20 AM PST
It is home to millions of specimens of living things, and its scientists study nature from A to Z. But ask the average person about the Academy of Natural Sciences and they'll talk about dinosaurs.

The academy's experts have been giving them special focus all month, and there's still time to enjoy the programs.

Jason Poole, who manages Dinosaur Hall, told Action News the fossil lab is open to public view.

You can watch up close and personal as scientists free bones embedded in rock.

Bones provide important clues in identifying skeletons, because a broad class of dinosaurs might be similar over most of the body. Find the right skull and you know which animal you're looking at.

Poole, whose background is art, says science can only tell us so much about dinosaurs and that's because they went extinct before man laid eyes on one.

Experts assemble clues from skeletons and use art to interpret their discoveries. True, sometimes a discovery will force them to rethink what they thought they knew and that's all part of the discovery process you can get a feel for at the academy.

You can also "meet" the Delaware Valley's own dinosaur. The skeleton of hadrosaurus foulkii was unearthed in Haddonfield in 1858.

Its bones were assembled and displayed at the academy shortly thereafter, making the institution the first anywhere to put a dinosaur back together.

You can visit the re-created skeleton and learn what science has taught us about this amazing creature daily at the academy.

The academy was also one of the first anywhere to liberate its scientists from closed-door labs. Now working in full public view, their activity often creates a certain curiosity.

In some cases, that leads to studies and even careers...sparking the next generation of scientists.

The Academy of Natural Sciences, now affiliated with Drexel University, is at 19th Street and Ben Franklin Parkway, open daily.

It's been celebrating its bicentennial since last February so you still have a limited opportunity to enjoy that exhibit if you visit soon.

For more information, access the Academy of Natural Sciences. You may also phone them at 215-299-1000.