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September 21, 2019 to january 5, 2020
Free with admission

 

HomeVisitDiscover the Dinosaurs

Discover the dinosaurs

Catch this dino-mite exhibit now through january

September 21 to January 5

Take a prehistoric trip to the zoo between September and January and visit some of the most ancient animals ever to walk the earth. These realistic, life-like creatures will make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time while you learn about their many connections to modern animals. Spend some time learning about paleontologists’ best assessments of each of our dinosaur species as you read about their individual identification signs. Bring your cameras for photo-ops that are fun for all ages! Be sure to take some video, because these life-like dinosaurs are animatronic. Hashtag #saczoo and #discoverthedinosaurs for your chance to be featured!

For some extra prehistoric fun, keep your eyes open for four dinosaur toys hidden throughout the zoo. If you find them all, let the Member & Visitor Services office know where you found them and get a sticker!

Free with admission or membership.
Become a zoo member and visit these dinos as often as you’d like!

PLUS

Do you have a young dinosaur expert at home who’s looking to learn more? Check out our special dinosaur-themed pre-K classes and dinosaur-themed first through sixth grade classes offered this fall and winter!

Take a trip back in time to learn about the amazing dinosaurs currently residing at the Sacramento Zoo with an exclusive Dinosaurs Behind-the-Scenes Tour.

 


Resident Dinosaurs


 

Ankylosaurus

Ankylosaurus

Name means: “Fused lizard”
Time: Late Cretaceous
Location: North America (Alberta and Montana)
Size: 33 feet or 10 meters long

This is the largest known species of the armored dinosaurs, and one of the last of the group to survive right up to the end of the Cretaceous period. The armor plating covering much of its body consisted of many individual plates of bone set close together in the animal’s leathery hide, giving it considerable flexibility. When attacked, this creature could probably stand its ground, perhaps squatting down so that only the many spikes and plates were exposed to an attacker. Or, if a predator got too close, Ankylosaurus could swing at it with a sideways motion of the heavy, clubbed tail. Such use of this “bone club” could easily have inflicted serious injuries. Ankylosaurus had the smallest teeth relative to its body size of any known member of its family.

Zoo Location: Located to the left of Kampala Cafe (near jaguar)


 

Parasaurolophus

Name means: “Near-crested lizard”
Time: Late Cretaceous
Location: North America (New Mexico, Utah, and Alberta, Canada)
Size: 33 feet or 10 meters long

Parasaurolophus belonged to the hollow-crested group of duck-billed dinosaurs. The nasal passages ran all the way up and down the length of the long, slender head crest, which was sometimes as long as six feet in some individuals. As in other crested duckbills, the crests probably varied in size between males and females.  The crest could have functioned as a display structure, an amplifier for sound production (acoustic resonance) or a regulator for body temperature (thermoregulation). The unique shape of the crest could have given their calls a specific quality, thus helping distinguish the sound from those of other crested duckbills in the forests.

Zoo Location: Located to the left of Kampala Cafe (near jaguar)

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Pteranodon

Name means: “Winged and toothless”
Time: Late Cretaceous
Locality: Europe (England) and North America (Kansas)
Size: 23-foot wingspan

Not technically a dinosaur, Pteranodon was a member of the flying reptile (pterosaur) order and was most likely a glider. Its short, tiny-tailed body was relatively heavy. The function of the great crest on the back of its head is unknown.  It could have been an aid for flight, perhaps acting as a stabilizer, a way to communicate species identity and attract mates or it could have simply acted as an aerodynamic counterbalance to the heavy, elongated head. The jaws were toothless. It probably fed like a modern pelican, scooping up fish in its long, narrow jaws and swallowing them whole.

Zoo Location: ZooFari Market Gift Shop

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Stegosaurus

Name means: “Plated lizard” or “roofed lizard”
Time: Late Jurassic
Location: North America (Colorado, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming)
Size: Up to 30 feet or 10 meters long

Stegosaurus was an herbivore, as its toothless beak and small rounded teeth were not designed to eat flesh. The head was relatively tiny, with a brain about the size and shape of a bent hot dog. Like some herbivores, it may have swallowed stones to help grind up the plants it ate. It belonged to an early group of armored dinosaurs. The plates might have been a protection against attacking meat-eaters (along with the tail spikes), but it is also possible that they were covered with thin, blood-rich skin and helped the animal regulate its body temperature. It is not known exactly how the back plates were positioned in life.

Zoo Location: under the oaks (near Reptile House Lawn)

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Triceratops

Name means: “Three-horned face”
Time: Late Cretaceous
Location: North America (Colorado, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada)
Size: Up to 11 tons

The biggest of the horn-faced dinosaurs, Triceratops may have lived in small herds. The neck frill, unlike that of similar species, was a solid sheet of bone lacking the usual large openings. This probably made it a more effective defense against predators. Often the edges of the frill had pointed knobs, and there may have been structural differences in the frill between males and females. The sharp brow horns could have caused considerable injury to an attacking carnivore. Hundreds of skulls and many well-preserved skeletal remains of Triceratops have been unearthed since the late 1800’s. They were one of the last species of dinosaurs to live.

Zoo Location: under the oaks (near Reptile House Lawn)

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Tyrannosaurus Rex

Name means: “Tyrant lizard king”
Time: Late Cretaceous
Location: North America (Texas, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta, Saskatchewan), Asia (Mongolia)
Size: Up to 49 feet or 16 meters long

The Tyrannosaurus rex was one of the largest of the land predator dinosaurs. Evidence shows that the Tyrannosaurus had a very powerful bite which, coupled with sharp banana-sized teeth, could easily crush the bones of other dinosaurs. This giant had arms that were too short to reach its mouth but were still over three feet long and some researchers think they may have even been capable of maneuvering 400 pounds each. This carnivore usually grew to between 40 and 50 feet and paleontologists speculate that Tyrannosaurus rex may have lived as long as 30 years.

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Dinosaur silhouettes designed by Freepik

 

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