By Charly SHELTON
After a 65 million year hiatus, dinosaurs are back on stage once again by popular demand. No, not the stage of life in the Shakespearian sense, but literally on a stage with lights, curtains and an audience. This weekend only, the Staples Center will be home to 187 million years of evolutionary history in “Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular.”
When dinosaurs first appeared on the scene 252 million years ago, life on Earth was very different. Plants had no flowers. Bugs were huge, like flying house cat huge. The planet had just come out of the largest extinction event it would ever see – only 10% of species survived. It was a world with little left and perfect for a new breed to take over: the dinosaurs. By the Jurassic period, 50 million years later, dinosaurs had flourished. Life was more diverse during the Jurassic period than at almost any other time in the history of the world, and definitely the most plentiful since the extinction event. Monstrous beasts like the Brachiosaurus and Stegosaurus roamed the planet feeding upon the abundant plant life. And being such huge lumbering beasts, they attracted attention from huge predators like Allosaurus and Torvosaurus.
When the Cretaceous period rolled around, dinosaurs had evolved into even bigger predators and herbivores that were so specifically adapted to their environs that they developed attributes like huge clubs on tails, like the Ankylosaur, a large plated frill atop their head to protect a weak neck, like the Torosaur, or the ultimate predator that the world has ever known, the King of the Dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus rex. But when a meteorite large enough to be called an asteroid hit the planet 65 million years ago, helping to create the Gulf of Mexico, it effectively ended the 187 million year reign of the dinosaurs. Since then, they have not walked the Earth the same way. Until now.
Life size suits and puppets of the dinosaurs are brought to life by a team of skilled artisans and puppeteers in the arena show that has been traveling around the world since 2007. These ultra realistic performances of dinosaurs are the closest thing we will see to actual dinos in real life … well, until Jurassic Park opens.
The show will run today through Sunday at the Staples Center and it is not to be missed by any dinosaur fan of any age. I will say this, however; the show is slightly skewed towards children. At barely 90 minutes long and with jokes and lines aimed at their younger sensibilities, this is not like the BBC “Walking with Dinosaurs” specials. It is a slightly watered down version that is more about the spectacle of seeing them than actually relaying many scientific facts. This may be great for a 10-year-old, but as a 25- year-old fan of dinosaurs, it leaves me a little wanting. Also being the only adult in line to drop some pretty big money on dinosaur souvenirs after the show was a little disconcerting as well. Not the only adult, just the only adult buying a T-shirt for himself. There were plenty of adult large shirts left, by the way.
So for fans of any age, or just anyone who has ever wanted to look up into the face of a roaring T. rex, this is the show for you.