New York has the Unisphere, Seattle the Space Needle. Philadelphia is getting a Nuerosaurus - for a month, anyway.
From March 26 to April 26, Dinofest, billed as the World's Fair of Dinosaurs, will fill 100,000 square feet of the Philadelphia Convention Center at 34th Street and Civic Center Boulevard near the University of Pennsylvania. The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, which had the first dinosaur display in America - a duckbill from New Jersey in the mid-19th century - is putting on the show with Dinofest's founder, Dr. Donald L. Wolberg. Dr. Wolberg, a paleontologist and geologist formerly with the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, organized the first two Dinofests, in Indianapolis (1993) and Tempe, Ariz. (1996).This year's event will include more than 100 full dinosaur skeletons, including the 83-foot-long Nuerosaurus, an erstwhile Brontosaurus-like denizen of Mongolia, and dinosaur bones from every continent. There will be a 43-foot robotic Tyrannosaurus rex (besides three T-Rex skeletons), more than 200 eggs, amber and a paleontological art show. Admission costs $15, $10 for children.
There will also be a symposium April 17 to 19 ($75 to $200), with more than 100 scientists delivering papers, and a keynote speech by Dr. Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard. A Dinofeast ($60), on April 18, will feature dishes made with foods that could have been found in the age of dinosaurs - for example, Theodont canape (alligator) and Ichtyo-saur-aus fritters (skate).
Several hotels are offering packages of a one-night stay, two tickets to Dinofest, two tickets to the academy's new Dinosaur Hall, breakfast and parking. The hotels and prices are: Best Western City Center, $99, 215-568-8300; Embassy Suites Center City, $209, 215-561-1776; The Four Seasons, $275, 215-963-1500; Holiday Inn Select Center City, $205, $185 weekends, 215-561-7500; and Howard Johnson Express in Cherry Hill, N.J., $86.90, 609-317-1900.
The Philadelphia Visitors Center has details at 1-800-770-5886, as does the Web site (www.dinofest.org).