Lilly Endowment Awards $9 Million for Fossil Excavation Project

Lilly Endowment Awards $9 Million for Fossil Excavation Project

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis has announced a $9 million grant from the Lilly Endowment in support of a $27.5 million paleontological excavation project in northern Wyoming.

The project, Mission Jurassic, will bring together more than a hundred scientists from three countries to explore the Jurassic Mile, a square-mile of land in Wyoming’s Morrison Formation that harbors relics of the late Jurassic period some hundred and fifty million years ago. Over the past two years, archaeologists have explored a portion of the site and collected nearly six hundred specimens weighing more than six tons, including fossil bones, dinosaur trackways, marine life, and fossilized plants.

Other partners in the project include the Natural History Museum in London, the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, the Netherlands, and the University of Manchester in England, which will partner with the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) to use X-rays to probe fossils at the atomic and molecular levels. The museum also will partner with ESRI (Environmental Systems Research, Inc.) to create a StoryMap of the site and share geological and spacial perspectives that tell story of the dinosaurs and the paleontologists conducting the excavation.

"We are bringing together an extraordinary international team for the first time that will critically analyze portions of the Morrison Formation in new ways," said Children's Museum president and CEO Jeffrey H. Patchen. "This project reflects a natural synergy between three world-renowned museums, their research scientists, and highly respected research universities, each providing unique elements to complete one of the most interesting chapters in the evolution of Earth."