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As you're struggling to regain feeling in your toes as we veer into the dead of winter, keep this in mind: Two-hundred million years ago, York County was on the equator.

It was a tropical climate, populated with strange flora and fauna. The plants were unrecognizable, and huge. The ground was crawling with all variety of weird amphibians. On the positive side, traffic on Route 30 wasn't bad at all since Route 30 was still 200 millions away from being built.

It was before the continents drifted to their current locations, said Andy Redline, science curator of the North Museum on the campus of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster. York County, for instance, was 100 miles west of the land mass that would become Spain, he said.

"Everything was different," Redline said. "There was no Park City."

The museum recreated the eco-system from the late Triassic Era as part of its new dinosaur exhibit called "Explore the Past," which opens Jan. 30.

The new exhibit came about after last year's renovations at the museum. Redline said the museum took the opportunity to revamp and expand its dinosaur exhibit, a popular feature at the science museum.

The new exhibit displays fossils from the museum's collection, as well as castings of dinosaur skulls that the museum has acquired. The centerpiece is a life-sized T. Rex skull. "You can get nose-to-nose with it," Redline said.

The museum also expanded the amount of information at each display. "The kids often know as much about dinosaurs as our own staff," Redline said. "What we tried to do is put the dinosaurs into their period in Earth's history."

Hence the display showing what our locale looked like 200 million years ago, at the dawn of the age of the dinosaurs.

"It's a neat story," Redline said, "and one that a lot of people are unaware of it.

Redline said the museum sought to put the era in the context of the 4.5 billion age of the planet. "The dinosaurs were around between 200 million years ago and 60 million years ago," he said. "That's a small slice of the time there has been life on Earth."

That called for what Redline described as "a historical approach" to organizing the exhibit.

"What we want to show is that the Earth is a changeable place," he said. "The dinosaurs attract all of the attention. People expect to see them in a natural history museum. We wanted to show how they fit into the story of the history of the Earth."

If you go

What: Explore the Past. the new dinosaur exhibit at the North Museum of Nature and Science. 

Where: 400 College Ave., Lancaster

Where: The exhibit opens Jan. 30 and runs until the end of the year. The museum winter and spring hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. It is closed Mondays. 

Admission: $9 for adults and $8 for children between the ages of 3 and 17, and for seniors over 65. Children under 3 are admitted free.

Details: For more information, visit northmuseum.org.

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