Rowan University has announced its purchase of a dinosaur graveyard in Mantua Township in New Jersey. The 65-acre quarry contains fossils and artifacts of the ancient animals.

The university will be acquiring the property for $1.95 million, with the aim of furthering research in different areas, including the study of dinosaurs and their extinction about 65 million years ago.

On Wednesday, Sept. 23, in an event at the quarry off the Woodbury-Glassboro Road, leaders of the university, officials from Gloucester County and Mantua Township, and Steve Sweeney, state senate president, discussed possible plans for the site.

The research and outreach projects will be spearheaded by Dr. Kenneth Lacovara.

"This is an extraordinary opportunity for Rowan University, one that places us at the forefront of innovation and scientific discovery," shared Ali Houshmand, president of Rowan. "As a university, we have an obligation to preserve this unique educational treasure, right here in our backyard, for future generations."

According to Houshmand, the university will transform the site into an "internationally prominent center of research."

The quarry has been owned by Inversand Company for about 100 years now. The firm restored the area according to an agreement with Mantua Township. It was part of the economic development planning services led by Gloucester County.

However, the fossils that originally settled in the land remain.

In 2008, the site was subjected to a redevelopment project, which could have paved the way for commercial and residential infrastructures to be built on it, said Sharon Lawrence, Mantua deputy mayor.

The plans died down and soon enough, Lacovara and others started to call for the site's preservation. Now, Rowan will take ownership of the quarry and establish a unique STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education center.

"Imagine the possibilities," said Robert Damminger, director of Gloucester County Freeholder. "The site may include a museum, science center and classrooms in the future. We’re fortunate that so many people have believed in this project, became invested, and are working to make it a success. It will become an extraordinary asset for our region."

Photo: Jason Howie | Flickr

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