Travel: Swot Spot: Monsters escape from movie: You don't have to see 'Jurassic Park' to learn all about dinosaurs. David Keys tracks down fossils, models and a host of robotic delights

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The Independent Travel
THE gorier aspects of the Spielberg dinosaur spectacular, Jurassic Park, have discouraged many parents from taking the kids to see it. Happily, there are plenty of real parks - and museums - scattered across Britain which cater for children's love of monsters without giving them nightmares.

Many schools now include dinosaurs as part of the national curriculum Science Attainment Target 2, covering Life and Living Processes, including Evolution and Long-Extinct Life Forms; Science Curriculum Key Stage 2 covering Fossils; and Key Stage 3, covering Extinction.

Bone up on fossils and other dinosaur delights at one of the following dinosaur extravaganzas throughout the country.

Belfast: Ulster Museum (0232 381251). Permanent exhibition, including complete skeleton of an anatosaurus.

Birmingham: Museum and Art Gallery (021 235 2834). Full size (50ft long, 18ft high) model Tyrannosaurus rex, fossil skull of triceratops and a complete fossil marine reptile ichthyosaurus. Children's events: on 3 August there will be replica dinosaur footprint hunts at 10am and 2pm at the Nature Centre Edgbaston (021 472 7775) and on 24 August there will be dinosaur mask-making sessions at 11.30am and 2pm (50p for each event).

Land of the Dinosaurs, Bullring Shopping Centre (0426 956820). Life-size models of 14 dinosaurs including Tyrannosaurus rex. Sounds, smells, smoke. Substantial fossils loaned by Natural History Museum.

Bournemouth: Dinosaur Safari (0202 293544). Six 7ft-high models; three computer games.

Brighton: Dinosaurs Alive, Brighton Centre (0273 203131). Thirteen robotic dinosaurs; four casts of pieces of bone.

Bristol: Museum and Art Gallery (0272 223571). No dinosaurs, but from Wednesday (28 July) see a spectacular array of giant marine reptiles, the dinosaurs' relatives and contemporaries, in the permanent 'Sea Dragons' exhibition, including a 200-million-year-old fossilised ichthyosaurus.

Cambridge: Sedgwick Museum of Geology (0223 333400). See the 18ft-tall plaster reconstruction of an 80-million-year- old iguanodon with its dagger thumbs. Fossilised fragments of a dozen other dinosaurs, as well as a 16ft giant marine reptile, a plesiosaur, everyone's image of the Loch Ness Monster.

Cardiff: National Museum of Wales (0222 397951). No dinosaurs until October, when four complete fossil animals and three reconstructions go on display. Meanwhile, visit superb exhibition of prehistoric sea monsters (until February 1994). Eight life-size moving robotic reptiles from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

Colwyn Bay: Dinosaur World, Eirias Park (0492 518111 or 0745 833136). The largest selection of full-size model dinosaurs in Britain. Largest of the 42 is a 21ft tyrannosaurus with baby.

Cuckfield: Cuckfield Museum (0444 454276). A small display includes photographs of a Mrs Mantell, who found the first dinosaur remains half a mile away in rock at the roadside, in 1822, and of her husband, Dr Mantell, who made the identification. The display also features two iguanodon and three megalosaurus bones found by the Mantells.

Dorchester: Dinosaur Museum (0305 269880). See six life-size models including a 12ft high tyrannosaurus, casts of two skeletons, 13 original footprints and a rare 'tail print'.

Dudley: Art Gallery and Museum (0384 453571). Cast of a 30ft-long megalosaurus, three fossil dinosaur eggs in a nest, and several fossil bones.

Edinburgh: Royal Museum of Scotland (031 225 7534). See 18ft-long fibreglass cast of an allosaurus skeleton from Utah, USA, and some of its fossil bones, as well as fossil dinosaur eggs and an original trackway of 10 giant footprints.

Glasgow: Hunterian Museum (041 330 4221). Spectacular 7m iguanodon trackway of eight giant footprints. Fossil skull of a triceratops, and a clutch of eggs laid by a diplodocus.

Isle of Wight: Lower Sutton Farm, Brighstone. From tomorrow (25 July) until at least early September. Open every Sunday and Thursday 10am-5pm. Entry pounds 1; children 50p. Watch scientists at work on a dinosaur. Palaeontologists are conserving the remains of an 8-10 metre high vegetarian beast discovered last year.

Museum of Isle of Wight Geology, Isle of Wight (0983 404344). Excellent display includes 6m-long iguanodon (half fossil, half cast), a full-size model megalosaurus and an original 10-print dinosaur trackway. Also a good selection of teeth, jaws, claws and other fossil dinosaur bones.

Brighstone Bay Beach: Hunt for bones, mainly from iguanodon and hypsilophodon dinosaurs. Best at around low tide. Keep well clear of the cliffs and remember: if, in a week of searching, you find a tiny fragment, you are doing well. Report any success to Sandown Museum (0983 404344).

London: Alexandra Palace (0891 505700; 36-48p per minute). Impressive 'Dinosaurs Alive' exhibition until 5 September. Features 14 full-size robotic models, two cast skeletons, one fossil skeleton, four static models. Youngsters can conduct their own dinosaur excavation in supervised sandpit or assemble a giant three-dimensional dinosaur jigsaw.

Crystal Palace Park (081-778 9496). Open daily 7.30am to sunset. Entry free. The world's first Jurassic Park, created in 1853. Features 23 spectacular life-size models, cast-iron, brick and stucco dinosaurs and other prehistoric giant reptiles, including a 25ft long iguanodon dinosaur, perched on Jurassic or other rocks for a touch of authenticity.

Natural History Museum (071-938 9123). The most comprehensive dinosaur exhibition in Britain. Five life-size robotic models, 15 casts of complete skeletons, four substantially complete fossil skeletons, two model nests with eggs and baby dinosaurs, 70 fossil bones from 30 species, 15 major dinosaur paintings and drawings, five videos and two educational computer games.

Oxford: University Museum (0865 272950). See the cast of an iguanodon skeleton, fossil bones from several Oxfordshire dinosaurs.

(Photograph omitted)

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