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Dueling Dinosaurs Friends & Family Day

  • Saturday, April 20, 2024
  • 10:00am - 5:00pm

Dueling Dinosaurs silhouettes on orange background.


Museum Members will take over all four floors of the Nature Research Center to celebrate our new Dino-mite residents, with hands-on-science stations, crafts designed for the whole family and much more fun!

Embark on a thrilling journey through time as we commemorate the opening of the state-of-the-art SECU DinoLab and meet the astounding Paleo team who bring it to life. Members enjoy a sneak peek of Dueling Dinosaurs while connecting with the enthusiastic scientists, educators and researchers behind the exceptional exhibit.

Activities include:

  • Go behind the scenes in our 3rd floor Paleontology Lab. Meet Museum and NCSU paleontologists, hear about their latest research, and be the first to see dinosaurs so new, they don’t even have names yet!
  • Search through 66-67-million-year-old sediment to discover and identify microfossils from Montana near where this Dueling Dinosaurs fossil was found! This is your chance to see the fossils, talk with scientists, and experience Cretaceous Creatures, one of the largest paleontology public science projects to date.
  • Meet our researchers, learn about their work, and go behind-the-scenes in some of our other research labs.
  • Learn how you can help document the biodiversity of North Carolina by participating in the City Nature Challenge!
  • Enjoy hands-on activities in the VisLab, Investigate Lab, and Naturalist Center.
  • Join the Durham Scrap Exchange to make your own eco-friendly craft.

This members-only event is a special opportunity to witness a wonder 67 million years in the making, before it opens to the public on April 27.

Recommended for all ages. 


Become a Member to join us for a roaring good time!

SECU Daily Planet Theater Presentations

10:30am: Underestimating Dinosaurs: The Paleospecies Problem

Dr. James Napoli, NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Dr. James Napoli is a vertebrate paleontologist who studies the evolution of meat-eating dinosaurs, including tyrannosaurs and small bird-like theropods like Velociraptor. He has developed innovative methods to identify new dinosaur species, and has named two new dinosaurs so far. He is a postdoctoral researcher on the Dueling Dinosaurs project, focusing on the Dueling Dinosaurs tyrannosaur and its implications for tyrannosaur growth and evolution.

11:30am: You Are What You Eat: Revealing Dinosaur Diets Using Fossil Tooth Chemistry

Dr. Thomas Cullen, Auburn University
Dr. Thomas Cullen is an Assistant Professor of Paleobiology at Auburn University, where he performs research on the ecology, evolution and life history of dinosaurs and other extinct organisms, with a particular focus on understanding how ecosystems respond under greenhouse climates. Prior to this position, he worked for Dr. Lindsay Zanno as a postdoctoral researcher at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences assisting in the development of the Cretaceous Creatures public science program.

12:30pm: The Fossil History of North Carolina

Dr. Christian Kammerer, NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Dr. Christian Kammerer is the Research Curator of Paleontology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. His research focuses on the assembly of modern faunas at the dawn of the age of dinosaurs, with particular interest in the ancestors of mammals.

2:30pm: Dinosaur Bling: Why Did Dinosaurs Evolve Ornaments?

Dr. Terry “Bucky” Gates, North Carolina State University
Dr. Bucky Gates is a professor in the biology department at NC State University. He got his undergraduate degree in geology from NC State before moving to the University of Utah to earn his master’s and PhD in paleontology. Bucky teaches a variety of interdisciplinary courses at NCSU and, every chance he gets, studies the fossil record of sharks and dinosaurs as well as the foundations of evolution.

3:30pm: The Science and Science Fiction of Dinosaur De-extinction

Dr. Elizabeth Jones, NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Dr. Elizabeth Jones is a science historian, educator, and author. She is the project manager for Cretaceous Creatures in the Paleontology Research Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and postdoctoral researcher at NC State University.

4:30pm: Unlocking North Carolina’s Prehistoric Past: A Brief Journey Through Our Paleontology Collections

Sean Moran, NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Sean Moran is the Paleontology Collections Manager at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. While his specific research interests are in 34-million-year-old mammals, he has the pleasure of working with many fossils, from crabs to dinosaurs, on a daily basis. He is thrilled to share some of those specimens with you.

Opening Celebrations

  • Gala: April 19, 6:30-10pm
  • Friends & Family Day: April 20, 10am–5pm
  • Grand Opening: April 27, 10am–5pm

Dueling Dinosaurs Opening Celebrations Sponsors

Duke Energy logo

Diamonds Direct logo
Radeas logo
SECU logo
Wells Fargo logo

Bernadette Healy Goodnight & James Goodnight

Bulldog Express. Pack, Ship, and Print
Catering Works
Conviction Bourbon
HH Architecture
Measurement Inc.
Raleigh Radiology
Salty Turtle
Sea & Shoreline logo
Tito's Vodka
Wake Stone Corporation. Established 1970

Ann & James Goodnight

Beth & Julian Williamson


Opening Celebrations Sponsorship

Enjoy complimentary tickets with exclusive invitation to our pre-party Happy Hour and Sponsors-Only VIP Lounge, featuring elevated desserts, a full bar and special access to world-renowned paleontologist, Dr. Lindsay Zanno, and more. For more information, review our sponsorship levels or contact Joseph Luhning at 919.707.9817, Joseph.Luhning@naturalsciences.org.

Dueling Dinosaurs Opening Celebrations Committee



April 20
10:00 am - 5:00 pm


Nature Research Center
121 West Jones Street
Raleigh, NC 27601 United States
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MayAnn Doan