Five Questions on the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis’ Mission Jurassic

Five Questions on the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis’ Mission Jurassic
Dallas Evans, Lead Curator Natural Science and Paleontology at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, works in the Paleo Prep Lab.
Dallas Evans, Lead Curator Natural Science and Paleontology at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, works in the Paleo Prep Lab. (Source: Children’s Museum of Indianapolis)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A real life Jurassic Park is now being unearthed by a team of scientists, led by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

This fossil-rich plot of land in northern Wyoming will provide a vast amount of insight into the Jurassic Period. What’s collected at the site will form the basis for a major expansion of the Dinosphere Gallery at The Indianapolis Children’s Museum. This will enable the museum to introduce visitors to the giants of the Jurassic, the long-necked dinosaurs, which were the largest creatures to walk on the face of the earth.

The project is called Mission Jurassic. More than 100 scientists from three countries will join forces to work on the $27.5 million dollar project. It also involves The Natural History Museum (London, UK), the Naturalis Biodiversity Center (Leiden, Netherlands) and the University of Manchester (Manchester, UK). It’s made possible through a lead gift from Lilly Endowment, Inc.

Here are my five questions with Dallas Evans, Lead Curator Natural Science and Paleontology at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

1.) What does a finding like this mean?

It means opportunity. This rare paleontological site offers opportunity for education, research, exhibition and discovery, with the promise to tell a much more complete story about the Jurassic Period than has ever been told.

2.) What are some of the things the fossils will teach us about that time period?

Initial exploration at this site has yielded abundant dinosaur bones, as well as the remains of other ancient creatures, fossilized plants and even dinosaur trackways. Further excavations will help researchers piece together a much more clear understanding of Jurassic life, its ancient ecosystems and in some cases even the behavior of some of these creatures. This new scientific endeavor will give us a better understanding of what the world was like 150 million years ago.

Dallas Evans with the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis works at the site in Wyoming.
Dallas Evans with the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis works at the site in Wyoming. (Source: Children’s Museum of Indianapolis)

3.) How long will the excavation take?

With “Mission Jurassic” we are embarking on a 20-year project of excavation and exploration at the site.

4.) Why are the fossils still in this location? Why haven’t they been dug up before?

This site was only recently discovered and is located on private land in a remote section of northern Wyoming. The staff of The Children’s Museum were amazed at the enormity and potential of the Jurassic fossil deposits in this area.

5.) Why was it important for The Indianapolis Children’s Museum to take the lead on this?

As the caretakers of this site The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis realizes the importance of the story that lies within these rocks. It’s a story we want to share with other people and other institutions. The “Mission Jurassic” project enables us to work with extraordinary scientists from around the globe and closely examine one of the most interesting chapters in the evolution of life on Earth.

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