Sunday, June 8, 2003

Ky. gets own 'Jurassic Park'

Dinosaur World life-size models aim to teach

The Associated Press

CAVE CITY - It's no Jurassic Park, but the owners of a new western Kentucky attraction hope to pull in dinosaur fans.

More than 100 life-size models of dinosaurs dot the woods outside Cave City at Dinosaur World, a park started by a Swedish family with a companion site in Florida. Construction started in the fall of 2002 and the park, off Interstate 65, opened for its first weekend.

"This is the second one of these parks they've built, and we've had really good success with the one in Florida," said Michael Segers, education coordinator for Dinosaur World.

"We have a lot of school groups that come for field trips, plus a lot of families who just stop to spend the day."

The park's fiberglass dinosaurs include favorites such as Tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops, plus lesser-known varieties of dinos such as deinonychus and elasmosaurus, Segers said.

"We tried to arrange them as close to what they might have looked like in the wild as possible," he said.

"Of course, all we know about dinosaurs comes from the fossil record, so we can't be sure exactly what they looked like and so forth, but we've used the most current scientific thoughts."

In one clearing along the park's path that winds through a small forest, a T. rex stalks a ceratosaurus herd, which draws back into a circle, horns up, to defend its young, while another herd of brachiosaurs flees from the encroaching carnivore.

"Again, we're not certain that ceratosaurs would have used this posture as a defense mechanism, but we know that they traveled in herds from the fossils that we've found," Segers said. "And based on studies of other large herbivores like elephants, it seems pretty likely that they might have acted this way."

New dinosaurs will arrive at the park regularly to help keep the experience fresh for returning visitors, Segers said.

"We started with about 100 at the park in Florida, also, and now we're up to a little over 150 there," he said.

"We expect to have a similar expansion here eventually."

In addition to the self-paced tour of the dinosaur models, the park also offers a picnic area and a gift shop.

Also under way at the park is construction of a large building that will eventually house a theater to present educational programs about dinosaurs, Segers said.

Christer Svennson, founder of Dinosaur World, said he hopes the park will be entertaining and educational.

Interest in the park has been high since construction began last fall, Cave City City Clerk Pam Hunt said.

"Especially after the T. rex went up beside the interstate, a lot more people started to notice it," she said.

Admission is $9.75 for adults, $8.95 for seniors and $7.75 for children ages 3-12.

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