Site of Jurassic Fossils gives way to Global Science Collaboration

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis publicized their inauguration of‘Mission Jurassic’. It is a project that will encourage the paleontological mining of a fossil-rich land site in northern Wyoming and will unite scientists from around the globe to expose new mysteries of the world before us.

“Mission Jurassic is a wonderful project because it’s not just an isolated fossil – it’s a suite of different organisms, including dinosaurs and plants, in a single location,” stated SLAC scientist Nick Edwards. “We hope that through our involvement in this project, we will contribute some new information to the preservation, chemistry and maybe even the basic understanding of these extinct organisms, ancient ecosystems, and Earth history on the broader scale.”

Mission Jurassic’s leader will be The Children’s Museum. The project is attainable thanks to a major gift from Lilly Endowment Inc. Spearheaded by Phil Manning and Victoria Egerton (University of Manchester), more than 100 scientists will examine the fossils from the Jurassic Period.

“We have been using SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) for over a decade to help map the subtle changes in chemistry that are a function of burial environments,” stated Manning. “This work has real-world impact on how we might plan the long-term burial and disposal of waste in the 21st Century. We use the fossil record as a ‘hindsight laboratory’ that can better inform science on the mass transfer of compounds from the biosphere into the lithosphere”.

There are 4chief mines in the 640-acre land. Leaders of the project are calling the site, ‘Jurassic Mile’.

Approximately 600 samples have been gathered from the land over the last two years and only a segment of it has been explored. These consist of the skeletons of an 80-foot-tall sauropod and 90-foot-long Diplodocid etc.

SLAC will shine X-rays onto the fossils at the SSRL. Novel imaging methods being established by the group have already caused numerous great-impact publications.

“Our primary instrument at SSRL is unique because it can do elemental imaging, which tells us where the elements are in fossils, and it can also do absorption spectroscopy, which tells us what chemical state they’re in,” states Uwe Bergmann, a scientist at SLAC. “It allows us to detect a wide range of important biological and geochemical elements, from light elements like phosphorous and sulfur all the way to the transition metals.”