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Updated: 11th September 2018 23:22

Free dinosaur exhibit with junior T. rex and baby Triceratops opens at MRU

Calgarians no longer have to drive out to Drumheller to stare a life-size dinosaur replica right in the eye socket.

Fossil casts represent the end of the dinosaurs and the rise of the mammals

MRU professor emeritus Wayne Haglund, left, was the driving force behind bringing the exhibit to the university. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Calgarians no longer have to drive out to Drumheller to stare a life-size dinosaur replica right in the eye socket.

A junior T. rex, a baby Triceratops, and an otter-like early marsupial were unveiled Thursday at Mount Royal University's new and free Cretaceous Lands exhibit.

Mount Royal University's free Cretaceous Lands exhibit opened Thursday morning. 0:24

The three acquired fossil casts are representative of the period marking "the end of the dinosaur and the beginning of the mammals," explained professor emeritus Wayne Haglund.

Scientists believe the animals died roughly 65 million years ago in what is South Dakota today.

Thought by some to be a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex, the Nanotyrannus lancensis was an agile predator, with dagger-like teeth and a sleek skeleton.

Scientists believe it may have hunted in packs. Others believe it was a distinct species with more teeth in its jaws than the T. rex.

Students at MRU will be able to use the exhibit to study the differences between the dinosaurs, such as the Triceratops horridus on the left, and mammals, such as the Didelphodon vorax on the right, at a time when the former were beginning to go extinct. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Triceratops was a large, four-legged plant eater that weighed up to 12 tonnes. The baby displayed at the Cretaceous Lands exhibit was probably between one and three years old when it died.

The marsupial on display was related to the opossum, although it was semi-aquatic like an otter.

With short, heavily constructed jaws and blunt premolar teeth, it likely crushed small prey such as lizards and frogs and the shells of mollusks.

The Cretaceous Lands exhibit follows the Cretaceous Seas display unveiled at Mount Royal in 2015.

With files from Mike Symington/CBC

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