Life-size robotic dinosaurs unveiled at the West Australian Museum

Friday, April 11, 2014

By Emma Wynne
Inside the historic Hackett Hall at the WA Museum 20 dinosaurs roar, snap their jaws and wave their tails in a new exhibit designed to show visitors life-size creatures of the Cretaceous period.

Dinosaur Discovery: Lost Creatures of the Cretaceous opens in Perth on April 11, and is a first for the WA Museum.

Stephen Goldsworthy is the designer who has spent the past two years working with the museum’s palaeontologists to create the dinosaurs, and said they have tried to make them as scientifically accurate as possible.

“Palaeontologists, paleo-artists and paleo-botanists have all given us information," he said.

“We have worked from fossils and drawings and the scientific information that is available.

“We spent a lot of time working on the engineering. They are steel frames with electronic motors, and it’s all computerised.

"We also worked with the palaeontologist at the museum to make sure the movement was in line with the bone structure.”

It is not quite Jurassic Park, but the creatures do contain an extraordinary amount of detail, including individually hand-carved scales.

“The Spinosaurus actually breathes, its spine and tail moves. It really is an amazing piece of engineering. It took about four months to construct,” said Mr Goldsworthy.

In addition to the 10-metre high Brachiosaurus, whose long next stretches into the first floor bookshelf, the exhibition also includes some less familiar animals.

“The Leaellynasaura is a very cute dinosaur and a dinosaur that not many people will know about,” Mr Goldworthy said, pointing at a small bird-like creature with an orange beak.

“If you could have one as a pet today you would.”