A $25 million gift to Rowan University will enable the school to expand and preserve a fossil park in Mantua Township, N.J.
The university, based in Glassboro, N.J., says the park will be renamed the Jean & Ric Edelman Fossil Park at Rowan University in honor of alumni Jean and Ric Edelman, who made the donation.
The park is a former marl pit that contains thousands of fossils from the Cretaceous Period—the heyday of the dinosaurs. Researchers at the site, which the university purchased in January for $1.95 million, are carefully examining the fossils to determine if the site is related to the extinction that wiped out the 165-million-year reign of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
Excavators have unearthed sea turtles, sharks, boney fish, crocodiles and mosasaurs at the park.
Plans for the Fossil Park include a state-of-the-art museum and visitor center, a fossil preparation lab that will show how scientists study fossils, a nature trail, a paleontology-themed playground, social spaces to accommodate special events and opportunities for students and families to participate in paleontological digs at the site.
Since 2012, nearly 15,000 visitors—from as far away as England—have dug for their own fossils at the 65-acre tract.