What does it take to bring a dinosaur to life or at least a life-sized recreation? Start with 296 metres of fabric stretched over 132 metres of foam. Stuff the contraption with a kilometre of cabling, six hydraulic motors and a dozen truck batteries.
Programme 24 computers to control the reptile's every move and cover with 200 litres of paint. Finished product: a two-ton Torosaurus that stomps, snorts and roars on remote-controlled demand.
The horned herbivore is one of 15 animatronic dinosaurs that made their world debut on Wednesday in Sydney in a stage production of the popular British Broadcasting Corp. documentary, Walking with Dinosaurs.
Walking with Dinosaurs, the Live Experience, is "the closest you'll ever get to experiencing what it was like when dinosaurs walked the earth," the promotional flyer promises. Judging from the size of the beasts, you wouldn't want to get much closer.
A team of 60 costume designers and engineers have been working since last year to recreate the ancient creatures, which came in two sizes — big and bigger. Weighing more than a family car, the Torosaurus is among the smallest dinosaurs in the show.
The largest, a long-necked Brachiosaurus, measures the length of two city buses and stands more than 11 metres tall. And no dinosaur show would be complete without the king of predators — the terrifying Tyrannosaurus Rex. But the dinosaurs can be tender too.
During a demonstration in Sydney, schoolchildren cooed and giggled as a playful Ankylosaurus wagged its club-like tail when they patted its heavily armoured head.