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The Children’s Museum announces: Mission Jurassic!

Mission Jurassic

Mission Jurassic is a $27.5 million project that will bring together more than 100 scientists from three countries to explore and excavate a fossil-rich dinosaur dig site in Wyoming, known as The Jurassic Mile. The site is a treasure trove of Jurassic fossil bones, trackways, and preserved plant life from millions of years ago, that will lead to never-before-told stories about the Jurassic Period. Mission Jurassic includes:

  • An expansion of Dinosphere that will bring Giants of the Jurassic to The Children's Museum
  • An exciting dinosaur dig featuring Jurassic fossil bones, plants, trackways, and marine animals all in one place
  • An international partnership with world-class scientists

Dinosphere Exhibit Expansion

The scope of Dinosphere will expand to include Cretaceous AND Jurassic specimens.

  • When you enter Dinosphere, you'll be greeted by two giant sauropods!
  • Our Paleo Prep Lab will expand to make room for the extraordinary new fossils we’re preparing.
  • The hall beyond Dinosphere will become a Mesozoic Marineland where you'll feel immersed underwater with marine animals from millions of years ago.

The Jurassic Mile Site

This fossil-rich, mile-square plot of land—The Jurassic Mile—is unique because it not only has a treasure trove of Jurassic Period fossil bones dating back 150 million years, but also preserved dinosaur trackways and fossilized plants. The 640 acre site is made up of four main quarries with multiple levels to explore. The site will help us tell the story of the real Jurassic world in ways we have never been able to before because of all the different types of fossils in one place.

Nearly 600 specimens, weighing more than six tons, have already been collected from this site over the past two years of fieldwork, and only a fraction of the site has been explored! Here are some of the exciting finds we've already brought back to The Children's Museum!

  • Bones of an 80-foot-long Brachiosaur
  • Bones of an 90-foot-long Diplodocid
  • A 6’6” sauropod (Brachiosaur) scapula (shoulder bone)
  • A 5’1” femur
  • Several jackets containing articulated bones

The Mission Jurassic Team

The Children’s Museum has selected paleontological experts from top universities and museums around the world to form an international team. The team will serve as dinosaur detectives to uncover clues from millions of years ago. 

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Indianapolis, Indiana

The Children's Museum will serve as the Mission Jurassic project leader. The museum’s current Dinosphere exhibit at the world’s largest children’s museum has captivated more than 15 million visitors since it opened in 2004, inspiring new generations of explorers and scientists. Visitors are introduced to some of the finest examples of past life including a rare mummified dinosaur named Leonardo and Dracorex hogwartsia. The first T. rex ever discovered with a wishbone (furcula) and a Gorgosaur with a brain tumor are among other amazing fossils found there. A working Paleo Prep Lab at the museum allows visitors to touch real fossils while paleontologists work on real bones and learn the stories behind them.

The University of Manchester

The University of Manchester
Manchester, UK

The University of Manchester provides two of its academic staff working with The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis as Extraordinary Scientists-in-Residence, Prof. Phil Manning (Chair of Natural History) and Dr. Victoria Egerton (Research Fellow). The university is the largest single-site university in the UK, with the biggest student community. In total, 25 Nobel Prize winners have worked or studied there.

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum
London, UK

The Natural History Museum's founder, ground-breaking palaeontologist Sir Richard Owen, first coined the term ‘dinosaur’ meaning ‘terrible lizard.’ Today, the museum exists to inspire a love of the natural world and unlock answers to the big issues facing humanity and the planet. It is a world-leading science research center, and through its unique collection and unrivaled expertise it is tackling issues such as food security, eradicating diseases, and managing resource scarcity. The Natural History Museum is the most visited natural history museum in Europe and the top science attraction in the UK; welcoming over five million visitors each year. 

Naturalis

The Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Leiden, Netherlands

Naturalis is dedicated to exploring our planet’s biodiversity both past and present. With a collection of 42 million specimens and over 200 researchers working across the globe to describe and understand biodiversity, the center plays an important role in biodiversity discovery and outreach. Their brand new, state-of-the-art museum will reopen this summer, and will host an impressive dinosaur exhibit. The museum houses one of the world's best-preserved Tyrannosaurus specimens, which was excavated by their in-house team of paleontologists in 2013. 

National Accelerator Laboratory

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
Menlo Park, California

This key partner is working with the University of Manchester team to shine some of the brightest X-rays on Earth onto the fossils being excavated from Wyoming at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL); SSRL produces extremely bright X-ray light for probing our world at the atomic and molecular level. New imaging techniques being developed by the team have already resulted in multiple high-impact scientific publications.

Thank you to our Financial Supporters

This $27.5 million project, would not be possible without the generosity of Lilly Endowment, which made a $9 million grant to support the project. Susie and Jack Sogard have also made extraordinary lead gifts to support this project, and Toyota generously shared vehicles to safely haul our fragile fossils in an off-road adventure to The Children’s Museum.

More funds will be needed to create extraordinary experiences resulting from the research and exploration and all institutions will be actively fundraising to make that possible.