‘Mission Jurassic’ Unearths Gigantic Fossils Soon to be on Display in Indy

Joey Amato | March 10, 2021

Last fall, fossils of gigantic proportions were unveiled at the The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Their scientists and preparators have returned from another dig season at the Jurassic Mile in Wyoming and it took three truckloads to deliver all that they discovered last summer.

Thirteen pallets of material including three jackets that each weigh 1-2 tons made their way back to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. including ginormous hips (three feet wide) into which a large femur fits! A good portion of the back and ribs along with some limb bones and scapula also made it back to their R.B. Annis Mission Jurassic Paleo Lab and Polly H. Hix Paleo Prep Lab. The majority of what was shipped belongs to a massive 80-foot-long sauropod that will eventually be on display in Dinosphere®. Speaking of monster-sized, the largest plaster jacket weighs about 3,975 pounds (two tons). It contains several fossils of another type of dinosaur that will be looked at after finishing the gigantic sauropod fossils.

The team at the dig site also discovered a lot of teeth from theropods (meat eaters) who would have needed them to scavenge a meal from a dead dinosaur or to take a bite out of live prey. The largest tooth recovered is about the size of on adult thumb. But that’s not all. Another 34 pallets and a crate of molds traveled to Canada and Research Casting International (RCI) for preparations. These pallets include: another massive sauropod, an Ophthalmosaurus (ichthyosaur fossil which is a dolphin-like reptile with eyes as big as dinner plates), footprints (actual fossils recovered from where these giant beasts last walked the Earth) along with molds of footprints and rock faces to help the museum recreate the environment in which Jurassic dinosaurs lived 150 million years ago so visitors can truly feel immersed in the Jurassic Period.

From the gargantuan to the teeny tiny the museum’s paleontologists also recovered little vertebrae that likely belonged to small reptiles that scurried around during the same time period as the huge dinosaurs. The smallest fossil discovered is the size of a human finger nail and is a very small vertebra—belonging to one of these tiny animals.

To learn more about the jackets and see what they look like, check out this blog https://www.childrensmuseum.org/blog/recap-2020-mission-jurassic-dig-season

Visitors will be able to enjoy them in the redesigned Dinosphere® tentatively slated to open in March 2022. It will feature the large sauropods from the Mission Jurassic dig site, a Mesozoic Marine area that will include the Ophthalmosaurus along with the Cretaceous dinosaurs currently in Dinosphere® that children and families have come to know and love.

Mission Jurassic is made possible through lead gift support from Lilly Endowment Inc. and Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, with major support provided by The R.B. Annis Educational Foundation and Susie and Jack Sogard.