A team of video game developers have collaborated with palaeontologist Dr Scott Hocknull to create a large-scale dinosaur zoo at Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) digital learning space, The Cube.
The installation lets people observe and interact with 10 iconic life-size dinosaurs, including the T-Rex and the Australian Australovenator.
“Dino Zoo really is as close to a Jurassic World experience as you can possibly get – and it’s based on hard evidence and scientific understanding,” Cube Studio manager Sean Druitt said in a press statement. “Our animals live just on the other side of the glass, and none of them have broken out yet.”
The landscape displayed at The Cube has been created entirely from scratch, with the animated dinosaurs and pterosaurs programmed with an artificial intelligence. The dinosaurs move, hunt and graze in the digital environment entirely without external control.
“This is a zoo in the true sense of the word – we’ve set the animals loose behind the glass and we can’t control what they do or when they do it,” said Druitt.
The team prides itself on scientific accuracy. “We used direct evidence from the fossil record to rebuild these extinct animals and their environment,” Druitt explained. “We also observed their closest living relatives – birds and crocodiles – and this gave us the perfect palette to bring the Dino Zoo world to life.”
“We’ve set the animals loose behind the glass and we can’t control what they do or when they do it.”
The Cube at QUT is one of the world’s largest interactive digital learning environments. The large room is two storeys high and contains 48 multi-touch screens, 55 custom-made speakers, and 14 HD projectors.
Touch-screen activities include a digital pit where kids can learn the craft of a palaeontologist by digging up bones. There’s also an Earth extinction simulator, which lets you pick different life wipe-out scenarios – from volcano to comet.
The facility is located at QUT’s Science and Engineering Centre. Environments generated at The Cube let anyone visualise science and even participate in research projects. Previous exhibitions include an interactive large-scale sci-fi game and virtual chemistry experiments deemed too large or dangerous for the school classroom.
Watch some Vines of the dinosaurs in action:
Dino Zoo will be running at The Cube from 6-26 January.