Size matters. Not convinced? You will be after visiting a new exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, aptly titled "The World's Largest Dinosaurs." Through jaw-dropping scale models and interactive displays, the exhibit goes to great lengths (pun intended) to help you imagine these behemoths, called sauropods, in action. But the central mystery of sauropods goes beyond their impossibly huge bodies. Scientists are still trying to figure out how sauropods managed to stick around for more than 140 million years. When you attend the exhibit, bring a camera -- there are many photo ops with towering bones and beasts. Here are five don't-miss moments:
At 60 feet long and 11 feet high, Mamenchisaurus is the centerpiece of the exhibit, but don't be surprised if you can't immediately find her. Here's a tip: Look up. There's a good chance you won't notice this towering model until you're literally underneath her 30-foot-long neck. The skin on one side of her body is removed, baring the muscular-skeletal system, and a video, detailing her digestive and respiratory systems, is projected onto her rib cage. Oh, and Mamenchisaurus is tweeting about her (very amusing) experiences at @giant_dino.
ALL YOU CAN EAT
If you struggle to get your daily allowance of fruits and vegetables, imagine what these herbivores went through. Packed into a comically large 51 / 2-foot cube is the daily amount of plants, ferns, grasses and conifers a sauropod had to consume to stay properly fueled. That's a lot of roughage.
THE HEART OF THE MATTER
The circulatory system of a sauropod required loads of energy. See for yourself when you attempt to do the job of its heart in a test-your-strength arcade game. Pump with enough pressure and speed to move blood from the heart to the brain. If you're too slow, the dino gets dizzy.
Though hatchlings weighed less than 11 pounds, within 30 years they could tip the scales at 55 tons. A re-creation of a Titanosaur nest shows a relatively small baby just hatched from its egg. Included in this display are replicas of other animals' eggs, like the jellybean-sized egg of a ruby-throated hummingbird.
For all of the exhibit's interactive and technologically advanced elements, sometimes the simplest recreations inspire the greatest awe. That's the case with the 15-foot-high model of a Supersaurus' hind leg. Compare it to the nearby human skeleton, and we look like we're constructed of Popsicle sticks.
WHAT The World's Largest Dinosaurs
WHEN | WHERE Through Jan. 2, 2012 at the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street
INFO $24 for adults, $18 for students and seniors, $14 for children. 212-769-5100, amnh.org