Dino Web Digs

An Internet guide to dinosaurs

tyranosaurus teeth
©iStockphoto.com/Richard Goerg

Most children these days go through a “dinosaur phase,” and my son was no exception. Before his interest subsided, he’d consumed just about everything he could get his hands on about the geologic age of the dinosaurs. He’s moved on now, but every once in a while, I catch him pulling out one of his dinosaur tomes. It’s a reminder that our fascination with these animals never quite goes extinct.

An enduring Internet favorite on the subject for both my son and me is the site of the Museum of Paleontology at the University of California, Berkeley. From the subtopics displayed on the home page menu, select “The Paleontology Portal,” which gathers many resources into a single informational Web site. The subject headings on the left side of the page direct you to information about ancient fossil flora and fauna, cross-indexed for various geologic time periods and for various locations around the United States.

If you want to go directly to dinosaurs, however, you can begin at a page that opens with an evocative illustration by paleoartist Michael W. Skrepnick. You’ll also find some dinosaur history in unusual formats at this page. For example, scroll down to “UCMP Special Exhibit: Dilophosaurus!” or go to a guided tour led by the late Sam Welles, the Berkeley paleontologist who was the first to discover a Dilophosaurus fossil.

If you’re looking for a good site for younger children, try “Zoom Dinosaurs,” an online hypertext book. The San Diego Natural History Museum also has an appealing dinosaur page for kids, called “Dinosaur Dig.”

Around the world, new dinosaur finds are cropping up all the time, and many innovative exhibits are launched to showcase them. Opening this month, for example, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, is an exhibit that addresses some of the most current thinking about dinosaur biology. Check out one of the highlights of the Museum’s Web site by choosing “Behind the Scenes Gallery” from the yellow menu bar: you’ll find out how museum preparators re-created the prehistoric environment of a forest in ancient China for a spectacular, 700-square-foot walk-through diorama.

Budding paleontologists will naturally be drawn to other museum Web sites. At the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., curators have gone to extraordinary lengths to modernize a Triceratops skeleton. Scroll down the page and click in the box beside “Scanning the Bones” to access two brief but fascinating QuickTime movies that re-create the animal’s gait.

The way dinosaurs moved and behaved fascinates almost everyone, but the push to bring the creatures to life has come mainly from movies and TV programs. At a Discovery Channel Web page called “dinosaur guide,” under the heading “Walking With Dinosaurs” in the blue menu box, check out “Dinos: How Do We Know?”

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