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WHERE WORK IS 30, 50, EVEN 80 TONS OF FUN

CONVERSATION

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This is not your average factory: There are bones on the assembly line, scientists on the payroll, and diplodocuses on the loading dock. The folks at Dinamation International in Irvine, Calif., create life-size walking, squawking robotic dinosaurs for museums, zoos, and aquariums. Its exhibits-and there will be nearly 50 this summer-have been visited by 18 million parents and kids since 1985. Recently, George Callison, a paleontologist who rules Dinamation’s Mesozoic roost, fielded questions from a reporter and two preschoolers, Robbie McCall and Henry Harper, about building the perfect beast. Reporter: How many dinosaurs has Dinamation made over the years? Callison: About 700. Robbie: How do you make them? Callison: Artists draw pictures based on bones and fossils we find. We make a mold out of clay, cast it in soft plastic, build a frame, and put skin on it. Robbie: How do you get the dinosaurs to museums? Callison: Well, dinosaurs weren’t made to fit into trucks. But, for example, we built Tyrannosaurus rex to crouch and fit into a moving van. Others come apart. Henry: Which is your favorite dinosaur? I like triceratops best. Callison: I love stegosaurus. It’s got all these intriguing features, like plates on its back, but not much of a brain to run them with. Reporter: They look so realistic; do kids ever get scared? Callison: Frequently, because of the sounds they make and the way they move. Sometimes we’ve had to put chains around their feet so kids know they’re not really going anywhere when they move. Robbie: Do other kids like dinosaurs? Callison: Absolutely! They know their names, when they lived. Some even know how many claws and toes they had…. (For exhibit information, call 800-547-0503.)

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