Thursday, February 2, 2023

Wharton to host Nat Geo Live, bringing the Spinosaurus to East Lansing

September 28, 2022
Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo —
Photo by Photo courtesy of Wharton Center | The State News

Crocodile-like with a fin on its back and larger than a T-Rex. This may sound like the new Jurassic Park monster, but it's the Spinosaurus, the focus of the new National Geographic Live show at the Wharton Center on Oct. 2.

The show focuses on the rediscovery of the largest predatory dinosaur to ever walk the Earth, highlighted with the research of longtime National Geographic paleontologist, Nizar Ibrahim.

Since childhood, Ibrahim has focused his work on dinosaurs.

“It started when I was about five or six years old, maybe even younger," Ibrahim said. "One really important time was when I got my first book on dinosaurs. I looked at the images and I was hooked. I decided then I would become a paleontologist because it was just an incredible opportunity … It was just irresistible.”

Since then, Ibrahim has worked with National Geographic on their museum exhibits, children's publications, documentary filmmaking and now, live shows.

“If you're interested in sharing the excitement of exploration with the entire world, then how can you wish for a better partner than National Geographic?” Ibrahim said.

Ibrahim was passionate about sharing this project with the world, knowing that this discovery would change not only the paleontology world, but the audience of dinosaur lovers.

“It was an incredible mix of detective work and exploration," Ibrahim said. "This skeleton that we now have is the only one in existence in the world. It’s the holy grail of paleontology.”

Most dinosaur skeletons were destroyed or scattered during the desecration of land during World War II. However, when paleontologists found the whole skeleton, the scientific community knew it was special.

Ibrahim said that the Spinosaurus' psychology, lifestyle and the way it hunts prey makes it significantly different from any other dinosaur.

“Part of our job was to find out what this dinosaur was actually doing with these strange features,” Ibrahim said. “Like, why does it have its crocodile-like snout and a giant sail on the back?”

The Spinosaurus is also set apart from other dinosaurs because it was found in Africa. According to Ibrahim, we know very little about dinosaurs that were not from North America.

The show tells the tale of the international team not only reassembling the skeleton of the dinosaur, but its story and history in prehistoric times. While dinosaurs are easy to sell for the very young generation, Ibrahim said, the show has something for everyone in the family.

“People from all sorts of backgrounds enjoy this story," Ibrahim said.

The show utilizes computer-generated sequences to bring dinosaurs back to life and travel back in time. There is also a Q&A during the show which allows the audience to engage with the material. 

“When I really get to interact with the audience and all these people, you can see the sparkle in their eyes," Ibrahim said. "They are completely over the moon after the show.”

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