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Mission Jurassic Dig Update

Mission Jurassic Mid-Dig Report

This summer, teams of scientists from across the globe have joined us in digging and uncovering massive amounts of dinosaur bones in a one-mile-square plot of land in Wyoming that has been called The Jurassic Mile. This section of land contains a treasure trove of specimens from the Jurassic Period, including dinosaur fossils and trackways, fossilized plant life, and preserved sea life.

"There's probably enough dinosaur material here to keep a thousand paleontologists happy for a thousand years."
—Prof. Phil Manning, Mission Jurassic Lead Scientist

Over the past three months, dozens of scientists from our partner institutions—The University of Manchester (Manchester, U.K.), The Naturalis Biodiversity Center (Leiden, Netherlands), and The Natural History Museum (London, U.K.)—have joined The Children’s Museum in exploring The Jurassic Mile, digging for fossils in a joint effort called Mission Jurassic.

Scientists have made some exciting discoveries so far during the 2019 Mission Jurassic season, and we’re only halfway done. Check out 5 quick facts about the dig so far.

  1. Scientists have identified at least four sauropods, some of the largest land animals to have ever lived, and some meat-eating allosaurs, too.
  2. Some of the biggest sauropod finds so far include an articulated tail and vertebrae that is about 25 to 30 feet long, a backbone, a second femur that measures between 5 and 6 feet and weighs 200 pounds, and a shoulder bone that is one of the biggest in terms of surface area.
  3. Scientists also discovered dolphin-like creatures called ichthyosaurs with eyes as big as dinner plates, thousands of mollusk fossils known as Devil’s Toenails, fossilized plants, and fossilized dinosaur trackways (footprints).
  4. Scientists are starting to piece together the clues of what happened at this site. One important clue that helps explain the vast number of bones discovered at the Mission Jurassic Site was a petrified log believed to be wedged into the bend of a river. The ancient log helps tell the story of how a massive pile of dinosaurs ended up in a jumbled heap at this location.
  5. More than seven tons of fossil material has been carefully excavated and transported to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis for preparation. 

After more than 21 hours on the road, the fossil shipment arrived at The Children’s Museum.  We’re excited about the arrival of this new shipment of Jurassic fossils. But this isn’t the only shipment of new bones we’ll receive this year. We’re midway through this year’s dig season and should receive another batch of bones by the end of the season. This begins a new stage in the Mission Jurassic project. There’s much more to come because something big . . . VERY BIG . . . is happening!

Mission Jurassic is a $27.5-million project that will be brought to life through the generosity of donors. Donate now on our website, or for extraordinary naming opportunities check out our Mission Jurassic Field Guide or contact Amy Kwas at 317-334-4608 or AKwas@childrensmuseum.org.

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Categories: Dino Digs, Exhibits, Mission Jurassic
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