Insight El Paso Museum

Address: 505 N. Santa Fe El Paso TX
Phone: (915)534-0000

We were just here a couple weeks ago. But we were told that the place is closed on Mondays. We left disappointed the first time. However, being the parents of a small dinosaur fanatic, and knowing that the Dinosaurs Alive exhibit would end next week, we had to come back and try again.

My almost three years old immediately recognized the place as “the dinosaur place where we don’t have the key to open it.” We lined up and got our tickets from the booth. First, we found that no pictures were allowed in there. Once we got our tickets, we were confronted by another disappointment, the 3D Movie was out of commission and we would not be able to see it. Either way, we did not come all this way for nothing. So we took the little one into the dark room where loud roars could be heard in the background. The huge room was separated into sections. It was dark with some back lighting for effect. The life-sized animatronic prehistoric animals were displayed in various sittings. They looked real and they even moved.

First, coming up on our right, was a pair of triceratops, a “mama and baby triceratops”, as my toddler would call them. I imaged my little guy would be jumping up and down with joy about the mama and baby; however, I was surprised to found my little man was scared. His eyes were big, his little fists clenched, and in a small voice, he asked to return to the outside. We waited for a while. When he was more accustomed to the dark, we moved forward along the path. On the left, a pteranodon stood on top of large rock, overlooking passersby. It was about the height of a large human and its leathery wings were folded. As we turned, there was a fierce looking deinonychus glaring dangerously at us. Of course, my little boy was too terrified to get any closer. As soon as we turned the corner, we met the gaze of a ferocious-looking dilophosaurus. Its mouth opens widely and its claws were in the air, I imagined that it would look scary for most of people. Once we got closer, we noticed a second dilophosaurus was on the other side. It seemed that the two were poised for a fight. Usually my little guy would name the dinosaurs with enthusiasm, but today he looked timid as he quietly observed the large moving creatures with a mixture of awe and fear.

Next section lit up a bit, a baby Apatosaurus were there and next to it was a triceratops that can be manipulated by visitors using two joysticks. My little dinosaur professor didn’t even want to touch that. Around the corner, we saw this juvenile tyrannosaurus stood there with its red eyes staring at people.

On the left, gripped in a death battle, were a velociraptor and a protoceratops who was trying to protect its eggs. It was a scene that we recognized as a dramatization of one of the most spectacular fossil finds ever. A fossil found in the Mongolian Gobi Desert showed a velociraptor with a tow claw embedded in the gut of a protoceratops. The protoceratops did not go down without a fight, and the broken arm of the velociraptor was in its mouth when the two were suddenly buried. The Discovery Channel produced some nature-documentary-style shows featuring dinosaurs, including one based this scene called “White Tip’s Journey”.

Around the corner stood a relatively harmless looking parasaurolophus. As we completed the turn, immediately ahead of us stood a giant monstrosity about twenty-feet high and 40 feet long. Its scaly body was packed with muscles and jagged teeth protruded from its large jaws. Two small clawed hands looked rather non-scary, but its two large feet were big enough to stomp on people. Its red blazing eyes blinked, its facial muscle twitched, and it bent its head, and roared with a thunderous sound. We stood there in awe for a long time looking at this huge giant creature. In contrary of what I thought, my little boy seemed to find his comfort zone in front of this horrible predator. He stood there transfixed, though he did mentioned that we shouldn’t get too close. We stood there for what seemed like an hour before we convince the little guy to move to the next section. It is strange that he was frightened of the innocuous looking triceratops pair, but wasn’t intimidated by this massive tyrannosaurus!

Over the other sides many kids were “digging” out dinosaur fossils out of the sand. Impossible to taking his eyes off the huge tyrannosaurus, he hardly participated in the digging. The other side of the hall was sections for various scientific projects and gadgets such as bridge suspension, echo tub, concentrated sound, cloud synthesizer, magnetic force, ultra light, etc. It was like a play ground for kids. Kids of various ages were running around excitedly as they played with each one of the displays. Unfortunately, many of the displays were also out of the service. Needless to say, interesting as the things around us were, the little guy’s attention kept returning to the mighty T-rex.

We waited outside the laboratory room a while. Once it opened, we walked in with a large group of people. Each child sat the large table. Using plaster of Paris, they made models of various fossil shapes. My son got a small three-toed footprint from what he insisted was a velociraptor. While they were playing, I explored around the room and was amazed at the various fossils they had on display. Glass display cases housed dinosaur eggs, dinosaur nests with eggs, fossilized tree sections, shells, fish, and other fossils. Some you can even touch.

We walked around the whole area once more and later picked up the small footprint and left. We drove back as my excited two year old babbled on about the tyrannosaurus the whole way home.

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