State-of-the-art, interactive dinosaur and fossil museum to open in South Jersey in 2023

Southern New Jersey will soon be home to a new state-of-the-art museum and fossil park. It will give visitors the opportunity to dig and learn about the dinosaurs and creatures that existed millions of years ago in New Jersey.

“A lot of people don’t realize that southern New Jersey is truly the birthplace of dinosaur paleontology and that some of the world’s most important dinosaurs have been discovered here,” says Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, Dean of the School. of Earth and Environment from Rowan University.

Rowan opened the $ 75 million Jean and Rick Edelman Fossil Park Museum in Mantua Township. It will open in May 2023.

“The museum will have an area of ​​44,000 square feet and will include three large exhibition halls, a practical discovery center, a live animal center, virtual reality rooms, a paleontology-themed play area. .. A fossil research station where school groups can pick up their classes, nature trails, community garden retail spaces and a theater, ”says Lacovara.

He says a wide variety of dinosaurs once roamed the area that would become South Jersey.

“The world’s first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton was found in 1858 in Haddonfield, New Jersey, and the world’s first tyrannosaurus was found in 1866 a mile from here in Mantua Township,” says Lacovara.

He says paleontologists are still making discoveries in the quarry near the museum. It is currently closed to the public, but researchers visit frequently.

“There I found a 25 foot long jointed crocodile. A few weeks ago we found a sea turtle one meter wide, with a jointed shell 66 million years old.” , explains Lacovara.

Visitors to the museum will be able to descend into the quarry to search for fossils themselves once it is open.

“In the layers where we let the public collect, if you try and aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty, you’ll find a fossil that’s around 65 million years old and we’ll let you take it home.” , explains Lacovara.

He says researchers aren’t even close to finishing finding new objects.

“It takes us 12 years to process 220 square meters, and this is a 65-acre property. So there are literally generations and generations of work to be done here, ”says Lacovara.

The site will be closed to visitors until the museum opens in 2023. The museum will debut as the state’s largest net zero carbon building.

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