The current Lauritzen Gardens indoor exhibit in Omaha, Nebraska, displays realistic dinosaurs and living plants that also grew in the Cretaceous Period. The exhibit is based on fossil evidence. Dinosaurs of 125,000,000 years ago either ate plants or dined on plant eaters. Plants and dinosaurs were connected.

Dinosaurs and plants of that period are featured at “Dinosaur UpROAR,” the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center until May 12. All age activities for day and evening are listed at the website: www.lauritzengradens.org (402) 346-4002

Among plants in the Lauritzen dinosaur exhibit are living plants found in the fossil record from that ancient time. Some of the plants are recognizable today including Maidenhair fern, Rhubarb, Staghorn fern, Bromeliad, and Agave or Century plant.

In the Cretaceous Period, an inland sea stretched up through the middle of the now United States. Southeastern Nebraska, in the Rose Creek area of Jefferson County, was a tropical forest along the eastern edge of the sea, according to the fossilized plants found there.

From fossil records of the Rose Creek area of Nebraska, plants of that period included ferns, conifers, cycads, orchids, lilies, and other flowering plants. Plant fossils were preserved in shale and sandstone and include rare fossilized flower parts that were often too delicate to be preserved by that process. This is according to display information.

The world has over 250,000 plant species today. As much as 90% of plants are angiosperms or flowering plants that reproduce by flowers, fruits and seeds, according to a display in the exhibit.  Flowering plants include water lilies, philodendron, banana plant and palms that are part of the living exhibit in the greenhouses.

Flower and fruit fossils from Rose Creek on loan from the Bessy Herbarium at the University of Nebraska State Museum are displayed at Lauritzen Gardens for the exhibit. Several experts such as paleobotanist Dr. Garland Upchurch have contributed to the authenticity of the exhibit.

Greenhouses at Lauritzen Gardens are a comfortable way to enjoy flowers in unsettled spring weather. If you include dinosaurs, plants and fossils, it’s so much the better.

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