Why dig up the past?

Because fossils can tell us about the future.

More than 65 million years ago, a massive asteroid struck Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs and 75 percent of the species on our planet. New clues about this pivotal, momentous and mysterious event are emerging from a former marl mine in southern New Jersey.

That’s the site of the Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park at Rowan University – long ago the Cretaceous sea, today a place that preserves the past and speaks to the future. There, students of all ages, researchers and “citizen scientists” are part of discovery and learning that spans science, technology and a host of other fields.

The 65-acre site contains millions of marine fossils from the end of the Cretaceous Period – the last days of the dinosaurs. Researchers, led by world-renowned paleontologist Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, carefully examine the fossils to determine how the site is related to the extinction that ended the 165 million year reign of the dinosaurs. To date, they have unearthed sea turtles, crocodiles, sharks, boney fish, mosasaurs and even the remains of dinosaurs, whose bodies once drifted out from land before sinking to the ancient sea floor.

So why dig up the past? Beyond the sheer joy of exploration, investigating the past opens a window into the future. By understanding earlier changes to the Earth’s climate and ecosystems, we gain the ability to look ahead and to inspire tomorrow’s scientists, engineers and physicians to embrace the beauty of learning, the joy of exploration and the wonder of possibilities.

So far, more than 10,000 people of all ages have visited the Edelman Fossil Park to uncover our ancient past. There, visitors have the opportunity to discover and collect fossils with their own hands, a mind-altering experience for many. With their $25 million gift, the Edelmans have ensured that millions of visitors more, for decades to come, will explore and learn and find inspiration in the fossil park and its soon-to-be-built visitor center and museum.

Contact Us: For more information about any of these initiatives, please contact:
Dr. Joe Cardona, cardona@rowan.edu, 856-256-4236.