Rising from a former marl quarry in Mantua Township, N.J., Rowan University’s Jean & Ric Edelman Fossil Park Museum will be a world-class destination inspired by the deep-time perspective that the fossil record offers.
Set into a 65-acre landscape, the museum will perch above the quarry where, within its muddy depths, 66-million-year-old marine and terrestrial fossils record the last moments of the dinosaur world.
With an expected opening of Spring 2024, the museum will attract an estimated 200,000 or more guests per year. The project embraces sustainability, preservation and site-specific design with high-tech, interactive galleries and exhibits.
Research at the site, led by Fossil Park Director and Founding Dean of Rowan’s School of Earth & Environment Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, is shedding light on ancient events that led to the world’s 5th mass extinction, during which the dinosaurs (except for birds) and 75% of species went extinct—a pivotal, calamitous moment that paved the way for the modern world.
The museum will feature immersive exhibits galleries, full-scale reconstructions of extinct creatures, hands-on learning experiences, live animal attractions, virtual reality, connections to the natural world, and gathering spaces to build community around the themes of exploration, discovery, and responsible stewardship of our planet.
Featuring geothermal, water-source heat pump heating and cooling systems, as well as a photovoltaic solar field, the museum will be New Jersey’s largest public net zero facility. This means that 100% of the energy used by the museum will come from a combination of green energy available in New Jersey’s power grid and renewable energy produced on-site. No fossil fuels will be combusted for museum operations and no greenhouse gasses will be released into the atmosphere. In addition, the surrounding grounds will restore plant and animal habitat and other key landscape features.
Committed to the discovery and characterization of extinct forms of life, Dr. Lacovara conducts exploratory fieldwork in pursuit of species that contribute to our understanding of life on Earth.
A sought-after expert by international media outlets on issues related to science and scientific discovery, he is internationally known for his discovery of Dreadnoughtus schrani, a massive, plant-eating dinosaur that is the best example found of any of the largest creatures ever to walk the planet.
Found in Patagonia, the dinosaur weighed about 65 tons and roamed the southern tip of South America approximately 77 million years ago. His discovery was reported on by thousands of media outlets around the world.
Dr. Lacovara is a fellow of the prestigious Explorers Club, has conducted research on five continents, and is a leader in applying cutting-edge technology, such as 3D printing and computer modeling, to the study of dinosaurs.
Dr. Lacovara grew up in South Jersey and earned his bachelor’s degree in geography, with minors in biology and anthropology, from Rowan in 1984. He completed his master’s degree in coastal geomorphology at the University of Maryland College Park in 1986 and his doctorate in geology from the University of Delaware in 1998.
Dr. Lacovara presented a TED Talk lecture on Feb. 16, 2016, at the annual TED Conference in Vancouver. TED Talks are presented by some of the world’s most inspired thinkers. He presented in the “Deep Memory” session of the TED Conference. His talk has garnered more than 4 million views.
Hunting for dinosaurs showed me our place in the universe (TED Talk)
Dreadnoughtus: A New Dinosaur Discovery
Why the Success of "Jurassic World" Matters to Science
New science shows dinosaurs had feathers
Printing dinosaurs: The mad science of new paleontology
Supermassive Dinosaur Would Have ‘Feared Nothing’
What’s new with dinosaurs?
New York Times
Behind a Shopping Center in New Jersey, Signs of a Mass Extinction
Argentine Dinosaur Was an Estimated 130,000 Pounds, and Still Growing
Wall Street Journal
New Species of Dinosaur Weighed as Much as a Dozen Elephants
Newly discovered dinosaur, Drednoughtus, takes title of largest terrestrial animal
Rowan to buy South Jersey fossil pit that may hold answers to age-old questions
In a six-inch bone bed on the site of the former marl pit, Dr. Lacovara leads fossil research at what many consider the best window east of the Mississippi into the Late Cretaceous Period — the heyday of the dinosaurs.
Fossils found at the site include the remains of terrifying, bus-length mosasaurs, marine crocodiles, sea turtles, boney fish, shark teeth, brachiopods, marine snails and much more.
Lacovara’s team analyzes the fossils, the sediments collected around them and the geochemistry of the site to gain a clearer picture of the period when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
Named for alumni benefactors, the Jean & Ric Edelman Fossil Park of Rowan University was changed forever by their $25 million gift to transform the then-Rowan University Fossil Park into a world-class destination for scientific discovery and "citizen science."
The Edelmans’ gift was the largest ever from Rowan alumni and the second largest gift in Rowan University’s history.
For more on the Edelmans and their gift, visit rowan.edu/edelmangift.
Due to construction of our all new museum and ongoing Covid-19 considerations, the Jean & Ric Edelman Fossil Park of Rowan University is not currently open to the public. We will have occasional ticketed events, but these will be of reduced size while health concerns remain. We look forward to welcoming the public to the Fossil Park when our spectacular museum opens (anticipated in May 2023) and meanwhile encourage you to follow us for exciting construction updates on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. To join our email list, please fill out the inquiry form below. You may also email us directly at email@example.com.
Since 2012, Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, founding dean of Rowan’s School of Earth & Environment and founding director of the Fossil Park has hosted community Dig Days at the quarry in partnership with Mantua Township's Economic Development Office and the Gloucester County Board of Commissioners. The events, which typically draw more than 2,000 guests, give visitors the opportunity to search for fossils — and for Dr. Lacovara and other Rowan researchers to share the excitement of discovery with citizen scientists of all ages.
Rowan University purchased the 65-acre former Inversand marl quarry in Mantua Township, N.J., for preservation as a fossil park in 2015.
In October 2016, alumni Jean and Ric Edelman pledged $25 million to transform the then Rowan University Fossil Park into a world-class destination for scientific discovery. That gift became the springboard for work now underway to transform the Park and build a stunning new 44,000 square-foot, $73 million museum.
Rowan also thanks the Township of Mantua, County of Gloucester and state legislative leaders, whose partnership in helping preserve the former Inversand site and develop the museum will benefit students, researchers and the community for generations to come.
Please fill out the form and we'll be sure to answer any inquiry that you have.
Volunteers are an important part of the Fossil Park team, supporting community and educational events, assisting with fossil excavation and preparing fossils in our Paleo Lab on campus. Complete our volunteer application.
Your donation will help us continue to bring the thrill of scientific discovery to people of all ages. To make a gift please visit the Fossil Park's donation page.
Members of the media wishing to learn more about the Fossil Park or the Rowan School of Earth & Environment should contact Steve Levine, firstname.lastname@example.org or 856-256-5443.