permanent exhibits in the lobby. “Oh, cool!” cries a boy, pointing to eight perfectly formed trilobites caught swarming for eternity in a fossil.
This is the annual Dinosaur Discovery Day at the U-M Exhibit Museum. On the second floor, fifteen kids kneel, shoulder to shoulder, around a shallow sand pit. Their hands and knees embedded in the sand, they dig furiously for fossils. “I got one!” cries a girl, beaming. Another child holds out two fossils. “You can only have one,” says another girl in a bossy tone. In a nearby diorama an endless battle rages between a tiny saber-toothed tiger and even smaller human combatants.
Two towering mastodon skeletons dominate the center of the main hall. The top of a girl’s blue dinosaur paper hat reaches the mastodons’ knees as she roams around the room. Excited volunteers offer information on the layered teeth of one fossil. Adults pick up a black eighteen-inch stegosaurus horn for a closer look.
In the back of the hall, a cheerful helper in a Michigan T-shirt instructs families how to make dinosaur paper hats. Behind the busy crafters, a brown thirty-two-foot-long edmontosaurus skeleton cast rests in a base of white material in an open case. “Look, I have a quadriceratops,” says a laughing mother. She points to her toddler’s four-pointed pastel hat.