The mother hovers over the nest protectively as the hatchlings break their way through the egg shells. The creatures in this maternal scene at the Maryland Science Center are not pretty birds, but large, prehistoric reptiles.
The dinosaurs are back, this time with a nest of six young apatosaurus babies, destined to become the hit of the show, which opens tomorrow and runs through March 3.
Near life-size, the robotic figures are animated by a pneumatic control system, which allows them to move their head and jaws realistically. Raylene Decatur, the center's program director, says scientists at one time believed dinosaurs laid their eggs and then abandoned them. But the 1978 discovery in
Montana of a maiasaura nest with young that were a month old when they died suggested they were fed and protected by their parents.
The exhibit also includes the dramatic confrontation between a tyrannosaur, the largest of the giant meat-eaters, and a triceratops, the heaviest of the horned dinosaurs. In connection with the dinosaur show, the center is offering a series of children's classes weekends during January and February. Call 685-2370, Ext. 362.
Science center hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $7.50 for adults and $5.50 for students, seniors and the military. Call 685-5225.