Additional animatronic and dinosaur skeleton models were added to the Center for Science Teaching and Learning. Credit: Brittainy Newman

The emu at the Center for Science Teaching and Learning in Rockville Centre was initially quite confused by its new neighbors — a duo of green, animatronic dinosaurs that move as if sparring with each other. The quirky bird kept trying to bite one of the dinosaurs’ moving tails through the emu enclosure until it realized it couldn’t and gave up.

Good thing, too, because even though the pachycephalosaurus is a plant-eater, it’s still an aggressive dinosaur known for the dome-shaped bump on its head that it would use to head-butt enemies. “It’s not to help them cuddle. It’s a thing to help them fight somebody, whether within their species or with a predator,” says Tom Pascucci, paleontologist-in-residence at the center.

The two pachycephalosauruses — kids often refer to them as bump-heads — and a protoceratops are new additions to the center’s Dinosaurs! The Exhibit. “Every summer, we come out with new dinosaurs,” says Ray Ann Havasy, executive director. 

NINE MOVING DINOS

The three new additions bring the number of animatronic dinosaurs there to nine, five of them outdoors on the grounds and four of them inside the exhibit building, Pascucci says. There are also two fleshed out, statue-like dinosaurs and lots of dinosaur skeletons. And the center has more than 40 look-but-don’t-touch animals outdoors including the aforementioned emu, a peacock, owls, rabbits, goats and reptiles.

Ken Oshima, 3, of Great Neck, looks at the new...

Ken Oshima, 3, of Great Neck, looks at the new animatronic protoceratops dinosaur on display at the Center for Science Teaching and Learning on Tuesday in Rockville Centre. Credit: Brittainy Newman

The three new dinosaurs were unveiled in late July, and cost $14,000, Havasy says. They were sponsored by WAC Lighting of Port Washington. 

Havasy says she believes Dinosaurs! is among the largest permanent collections of animatronic dinosaurs in the state. “We’re adding and adding and adding and no price increase,” Havasy says. Admission is $12 per child ages 1 to 12 and senior citizens and $15 for 13 and older, the same it has cost since the exhibit opened four years ago. The hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day but Wednesday. The center is on the grounds of the Tanglewood Preserve.

GREAT TO BE SMALL

The new dinosaurs move and roar, but they don’t jump out and try to be scary, Havasy says. They are actually all on the smaller side, dinosaur wise. “We want people to understand not all dinosaurs are tremendous,” Havasy says. She says it’s helpful for some dinosaurs to be small — “they can hide,” escaping predators.

The protoceratops are a well-known species from a red-rock cliff area of Mongolia. Paleontologists have found many protoceratops skeletons in that area, as well as a famous fossil dubbed “the fighting dinosaurs” that captured a protoceratops battling a velociraptor. Such finds allowed paleontologists to reconstruct the protoceratops well, Pascucci says.

The pachycephalosaurus, on the other hand, is more of a mystery to paleontologists, Pascucci says. “We don’t find a ton of bones for them,” he says. Most often discovered are the thick domes of its head — in fact its name means thickheaded reptile, Pascucci says. 

Recent visitors loved all the prehistoric creatures, not just the new additions.

“This is our first time here, so everything is new to us,” says Carrie Nadler, 44, an LIRR conductor from Holbrook who brought her son, Everest, 5, and her boyfriend, John Lomaga, a director of operations for a TV company. “We’ve never been so close up before, usually we have to drive through in the car.”

New additions

  • Three new animatronic dinosaurs at the Center for Science Teaching and Learning in Rockville Centre bring the total to nine.
  • The new dinosaurs were unveiled in late July, and cost $14,000.
  • They move and roar, but they won't be too scary.