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Children's Museum Going Big On Dino Exhibit With $27.5 Million Budget

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The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is about to go even bigger all for the love of dinosaurs. It is about to embark on a heavily budgeted project called Mission Jurassic.

At least 100 scientists from three countries will be participating in the passion project that will cost $27.5 million from Lilly Endowment Inc.

Besides the Children's Museum, the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, Netherlands, will take part and so will the Natural History Museum in London and the University of Manchester.

Leading the team will be the two scientists-in-residence of the Indianapolis museum, Dr. Victoria Egerton and Professor Phil Manning.

An Excavation Like No Other

Dinosaurs are some of the most fascinating creatures to ever walk the Earth. Part of the wonderment comes from the fact people didn't see them exist.

The Mission Jurassic scientists, however, hope to paint a clearer picture of their lives and even answer long-standing questions such as why they became extinct.

To do that, they will be heading to the badlands of Wyoming. There, they will find the Jurassic Mile. A somewhat barren and even dry land, it hosts a treasure trove of information that dates back to over 145 million years.

The fossil-rich area covers 640 acres and composed of multiple levels and four quarries. So far, experts already uncovered 600 specimens weighing a total of over 6 tons.

These included bones of Brachiosaur and Diplodocid, which spanned 80 and 90 feet, respectively. They also found a scapula of a sauropod measuring 6 feet 6 inches, jackets with their articulated bones, and a femur about 5 feet long.

They also discovered trackways, marine animals, and fossilized plants, which may help explain the animals' diet. They may also tell how these creatures became giants.

Besides learning about prehistory, the mission will test the teamwork of the leading participating institutions.

"This project reflects a natural synergy between three world-renowned museums, their research scientists and highly-respected research universities, each providing unique elements to complete one of the most interesting chapters in the evolution of Earth," said Dr. Jeffrey Patchen, Children's Museum CEO and president.

The excavation findings will later be part of the expansion of the Children's Museum's Dinosphere exhibit.

This museum section will include animals and plants going back to the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods. New fossils will also find their way into the Paleo Prep lab. The visitors may also be able to study the marine animals during the Mesozoic era.

The Naturalis Biodiversity Center and the Natural History Museum of London may also receive some fossils for travel exhibitions and displays.

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