“Dinosaurs of Maryland” Exhibit Opens April 6

The Calvert Marine Museum is pleased to announce the opening of the “Dinosaurs of Maryland” exhibit on Friday, April 6. The exhibit showcases the diversity and history of Maryland fossils from the age of dinosaurs and will be on display on the Mezzanine level through December 31, 2018. “Dinosaurs of Maryland” is a collaboration between the Calvert Marine Museum, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Prince George’s County Government, and local fossil collectors.

While many are familiar with Miocene epoch shark teeth from Calvert Cliffs, less well known is the fact that the state of Maryland also preserves fossils from the age of dinosaurs. Fossils from the Early Cretaceous period are very rare east of the Mississippi River and there are only a handful of fossiliferous Mesozoic sites in the Eastern United States. Maryland features some of the most productive fossil sites, including the Dinosaur Park site in Muirkirk. The sediments in Dinosaur Park are approximately 110 million years old (from the Potomac Formation). At that time, Maryland was predominately a delta ecosystem, similar to modern Louisiana. The fossil plants consisted of ferns, cycads, conifers, and primitive broadleaf trees similar to sycamores and magnolias. Pine cones are some of the most common fossils from the Arundel Clay and are from a relative of the sequoia.

The animals of the area included dinosaurs, turtles, crocodiles, and mammals. The dinosaurs were both meat-eating and plant-eating varieties. The most iconic dinosaurs include the Maryland State Dinosaur, the large sauropod (long-necked dinosaur) Astrodon johnstoni.

Another prolific fossil unit in Maryland is the Severn Formation, which is Late Cretaceous in age (86-70 million years ago). The Severn is similar to the Calvert Formation in that both are marine deposits. The Severn preserves fossil fish, crocodiles, turtles, mosasaurs, and plesiosaurs. Mosasaurs were giant marine reptiles closely related to modern day lizards and snakes, which lived in the oceans during the time of dinosaurs. Mosasaur teeth are the most common marine reptile fossil within the Severn Formation, and will be on display in the exhibit. Plesiosaurs are also marine reptiles that lived during the time of dinosaurs. Plesiosaurs are commonly thought of as Loch Ness monster-looking creatures, but they came in a diverse array of shapes and sizes.  Only a few plesiosaur bones are known from the Severn Formation, and they belong to a long necked plesiosaur known as Cimoliasaurus.

The Museum Store is stocked full of dinosaur items to celebrate the exhibit opening. Custom coffee mugs and t-shirts, lamps, books galore for all ages, replicas, toys, hatching dino eggs, large plush dinosaurs, puzzles, and party goodie bag trinkets are just a few of the new items.

Illustration attached: Deinonychus (Dromaeosaur/Raptor) dinosaur by Tim Scheirer 

The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $9.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors, military with valid I.D., AAA and AARP members, and $4.00 for children ages 5 – 12; children under 5 and museum members are always admitted free.  For more information about the museum, upcoming events, or membership, visit the website at www.calvertmarinemuseum.com or call 410-326-2042. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest.