Sunday, September 25, 2011

Maryland: Heavy rains yield massive fossil

Dinosaur Park Website:
Dinosaur Park
13200 block of Mid-Atlantic Boulevard
Laurel, MD 20708
301-627-7755; TTY 301-446-3302

Join in unearthing Prince George’s County’s prehistoric past at Dinosaur Park, home of Astrodon johnstoni , Maryland’s state dinosaur. Observe and assist paleontologists in searching for the remains of dinosaurs, plants, and early mammals at this rare 100 million year old deposit of fossils near Laurel, Maryland. Dinosaur Park presents visitors a unique opportunity to experience the prehistoric past. The park features a small garden/entry area with interpretive signage about the Muirkirk Deposit, a unique geological formation with 110 million year old fossils, some of which are the remains of dinosaurs. The park also includes an intact portion of the Muirkirk Deposit surrounded by a fence. Access to this fossil area is allowed only during the bi-monthly open house days listed below, or by appointment for group tours and school programs.

Hours of Operation:
Garden/Entry Area with interpretive signage: Open from dawn to dusk 7 days a week.
Fenced Fossil Area: Open to the public ONLY during open houses and scheduled programs.

The public is invited to assist paleontologists searching for fossils on the first and third Saturdays each month from 12 noon until 4 pm. School programs and group tours are offered weekdays by appointment. Please call 301-627-7755 for reservations. Public access to the Fenced Fossil Area require M-NCPPC staff supervision or a special permit. More information on programs.

What is Dinosaur Park?
Dinosaur Park is a unique place in Laurel, Maryland, featuring a rare deposit of fossils from the Early Cretaceous period about 110 million years ago. The Park is part of a geologic formation called the Muirkirk Deposit that consists of sediments and clays that occur south of Washington D.C. to north of Baltimore. Here, paleontologists have unearthed fossilized bones of several kinds of dinosaurs, early mammals, and fossils of trees and early flowering plants.

Dinosaur Park features an interpretive garden that helps to bring the prehistoric past to the present via plants, trees, and ferns that are similar to those of dinosaur times. The parking area is surrounded by large chunks of ironstone (siderite) that recall the days of iron mining in the 1800s and 1900s, and is paved with crushed brick from when the local clay was used for brick making. Four interpretive wayside signs describe Maryland’s dinosaurs and prehistoric environment, and the industrial and African American history of the area. History of Dinosaur Park

Located in Laurel, Maryland, the park is situated off of Route 1 in Laurel and sits at the end of Mid-Atlantic Boulevard.

From the D.C. area, take the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (Route 295) to Route 197 (Laurel-Bowie Road). Turn west onto Route 197. Turn left onto Contee Road. Turn left onto Mid-Atlantic Boulevard and proceed straight. Dinosaur Park is at the end of the road.

From Route 29, turn East onto Route 198. Cross I-95 and turn right on Route 1 (south). Turn left onto Contee Road. Take the second right onto Mid-Atlantic Boulevard and proceed straight. Dinosaur Park is at the end of the road.
From News.24: Heavy rains yield massive fossil
Laurel - Scientists say they have excavated Maryland's largest dinosaur fossil find in five years, a football-sized bone weighing about 1.2kg.

Steve Jabo, a Smithsonian fossil expert, excavated the bone on Wednesday, but it's too early to say what kind of dinosaur it belonged to.

The Baltimore Sun reports the fossil was poking from the clay on September 10 at Maryland's Dinosaur Park.

Amateur palaeontologist David Hacker spotted it while scouring the site for fossils exposed by heavy rains from remnants of recent Tropical Storm Lee.

Jabo said the fossil could be part of a leg bone of a plant-eating sauropod.

Dinosaur Park, in Prince George's County, has been yielding fossils for decades and scientists and amateur sleuths deliver any finds there to the Smithsonian Institution.

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