Giant Mysterious Dinosaurs Chill in Phily

Pack up the kids and head to Philly for a dinosaur exhibit that makes for a great day trip during their break from school. Of course, if you're a grown-up fan, that's cool too.

Hosted at the Franklin Institute (222 N. 20th St., Philadelphia, Penn., about three hours north of downtown D.C.), the exhibit features the skeletons of Giant Mysterious Dinosaurs that you may have never heard of, like the Argentinosaurus, Mamechisaurus and the Giganotosaurus (we think they might be running out of names with that last one).

The skeletons have been reconstructed with painstaking care -- and they are huge. The Gigantosaurus is the largest carnivore dinosaur discovered today, 10 percent bigger than even the famous Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Don't miss the five-foot-high backbone of the 100-ton Argentinosaurus, or the bones of a smaller critter (just school-bus-sized) called the Tsintaosaurus, who sports a mysterious horn, resembling a unicorn.

You'll also see the longest claw ever discovered. It clocks in at almost two feet long, and they aren't sure what carnivore it belongs to, but it still puts those Velociraptors to shame.

These dinos won't be out for long. They belong to a Philadelphia area resident and dinosaur collector, Don "Dino" Lessem, as part of his extensive collection. Lessem is so devoted to dinosaurs that he even served as an adviser on Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park," and has written a score of dino-themed children's books.

While you're at the museum, you can explore the rest of the Franklin Institute's hands-on and kid-friendly science exhibits, like Space Command, which shows museum-goers how a real space station would function, and a giant walk-through heart exhibit, which details the physiology of the circulatory system.

Giant Mysterious Dinosaurs is running now through April 15, 2012. Museum hours are Sun.-Thurs. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (last admission at 3:30 p.m.), and Fri.-Sat. until 8 p.m. (last admission at 7 p.m.).

Tickets are $25 for adults and $18 for kids under 12. Evening admissions is $10 for adults and $6 for kids.

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