Crowdfunding might not have brought dinosaurs back from extinction but it did bring a cryolophosaurus to Orton Geological Museum.
The cryolophosaurus was originally discovered in Antarctica by Ohio State professor emeritus
Dr. David Elliot in 1991. After fundraising that began in March 2017 brought in the necessary
$80,000, the fossil was cast and is now located in the Orton Hall entryway as part of the Orton Geological Museum. The official unveiling of the dinosaur is set for Oct. 7.
“For all intents and purposes, it’s the most reasonably complete dinosaur found in
Antarctica, so it’s kind of a special dinosaur,” said Dr. William Ausich, professor emeritus of earth sciences and director of Orton Geological Museum.
The project was created with the intention of “kickstarting” renovations to the Geological
Museum, said Dale Gnidovec, museum curator. Ausich also said it would bring more visibility to the institution that provides STEM outreach services to communities and schools.
“Some of these exhibits have been here since 1980, and they need to be revised. We just
haven’t had the funding or resources to do that,” Gnidovec said.
With the addition of the cryolophosaurus, which was made possible from a wide variety of donations, the department hopes to “increase interest in the earth sciences” at the university, Ausich said. He added that, with contributions from preschool children to major donors, the $80,000 goal was met within six weeks.
“We even had children dressed in dinosaur suits selling cookies on the Oval,” Ausich said. “It
was just an incredible outpouring of support.”
The funds went directly to the creation of the cryolophosaurus display. Research Casting
International was commissioned to create the cast, using liquid latex to form plastic molds that replicate approximately 250 bones, Gnidovec said. RCI told Gnidovec that the project will be constructed on-site in one day.
The skeleton cast, held by a metal framework, is approximately 24 feet long and stands on a raised base that includes graphics.
“It’s going to be mounted in the lobby, looking hungrily down at kids as they come in the door,”
The original fossils are housed at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. The discovery of the cryolophosaurus was significant, Gnidovec said, as it was one of the earliest large carnivores and the only fossil of its kind.
“It’s the best-known Antarctic dinosaur known. It’s the earliest of the large carnivores known,”
Ausich said the museum has a great impact on the local community, and Gnidovec said he speaks to about 5,000 visitors and community members per year about scientific topics, including dinosaurs.
“We call dinosaurs the ‘gateway drug’ to science,” Gnidovec said. “It’s a lot of kids’ first exposure to real science.”