Burpee Museum hosts world-famous paleontologists

PaleoFest set for Feb. 18-19

Ten of the world’s best-known dinosaur hunters and paleontologists will gather at Rockford’s Burpee Museum this weekend, Feb. 18-19, to tell stories and conduct workshops with families, professionals and dinosaur lovers of all ages.


Discovery Channel’s Jack Horner and Mary Higby Schweizer headline “Dream Team" of PaleoFest presenters

DinoBlast family hands-on activities all weekend, continuing through Monday

Mark Norell, curator of dinosaurs at American Museum of Natural History in New York, speaks at expedition dinner

“Dinosaurs are awesome,” says Lew Crampton, Burpee Museum president. “They have the power to puzzle, fascinate and startle us. How did they hunt (and what hunted them)? Were they orphans from birth, hard-wired to kill and survive in harsh environment, or did parents nurture them? How did their species evolve—and are dinosaurs really extinct?”

These and other fascinating questions will be debated and discussed by scientists developing new knowledge about these great creatures.

PaleoFest is a full weekend of activities and programs such as Paleo Talks, Family Workshops and special DinoBlast passport activities for children.

The PaleoFest Expedition Dinner (Saturday, Feb. 18, 6-10 p.m. at Cliffbreakers, tickets $50) is headlined by Mark Norell, Ph.D., chairman and curator of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. His groundbreaking research on feathered dinosaurs in northern China makes a strong case for the theory that dinosaurs aren’t extinct at all! Topic—“Feathered Dinosaurs of Liaoning”

Other highlights

Jack Horner, Ph.D., principal adviser to the Jurassic Park series of movies (and frequent Discovery Channel commentator), will re-open the debate about whether T. rex was a hunter or a scavenger and discuss his new research into cranial growth in Triceratops.

Mary Higby Schweitzer, Ph.D., whose breakthrough work on dinosaur soft tissue preservation caused a media sensation this past summer, will put T. rex under the microscope. Is it possible to find dinosaur DNA preserved in the bones?

Mike Henderson, Burpee’s curator of Earth Sciences, will discuss the evidence he used to conclude that Burpee Museum’s JANE is the best example of a juvenile T. rex in the world. But the debate about JANE’s true place on the family tree isn’t over yet!

Steve Brusatte, of the University of Chicago, will introduce visitors to Carcharodontosaurus, a meat-eating predator even bigger than T. rex!

Matthew Bonnan, Ph.D., studies sauropods, the largest animals ever to walk the earth. Were they born to be big? Did their huge body mass dictate that they needed to stand in pools or ponds to remain upright for long periods of time?

Brent Breithaupt has completed a paleo-CSI study of “Big Al,” the world’s best-known Allosaurus. Even for the fiercest predators, life was hard at the top of the food chain. We’ll find out what was behind Al’s many injuries and early demise.

David Rudkin, Ph.D., from the Royal Ontario Museum, will explore giant trilobites, tropical reefs, and big white bears. Dr. Rudkin is an expert on invertebrate fossils of the sub-arctic regions of Canada.

Darren Tanke explores the wreck of the SS Mount Temple, which carried dinosaur bones from Canada at the turn of the century. Prepare for total immersion as we plunge into history for some rare and unusual finds.

Virginia Naples, Ph.D., is the world’s leading expert on the gargantuan prehistoric big cats that once roamed North America. See the saber-toothed tiger’s crushing jaw action.

Scott Williams, Burpee Museum’s Collections manager, will talk about Barnum Brown, a famous dinosaur collector. Learn about Brown’s life, and the central role he played in the “Fossil Wars.”

But PaleoFest isn’t just about workshops, lectures and talks. DinoBlast events for kids offer opportunities to discover all kinds of prehistoric creatures, create make-and-take crafts. All DinoBlast activities will continue through Monday, Feb. 20, Presidents Day.

PaleoFest hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 18 and 19.

DinoBlast activities are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 18 and 19. Hours on Presidents Day are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. FREE hot chocolate and cookies all day!

Museum admission

Admission: $5/non-members, members FREE! Admission is required to attend PaleoFest. Admission includes all DinoBlast activities for kids each day.

Lectures: 3 options

Two-day package: $60/non-member, $50/member. Includes admission to all lectures on both Saturday and Sunday and Museum admission.

One-day package: $35/non-member, $30/member. Includes admission to all lectures on either Saturday or Sunday and Museum admission.

Individual tickets: $8/non-member, $7/member. Includes admission to the selected lecture. Does not include Museum admission, which must be purchased.

Workshops: 2 options

One-day package: $25/non-member, $25/member. Includes admission for one adult and one child to both workshops on either Saturday or Sunday (additional child or adult: $7.50 each for non-members, $5 for members) and Museum admission.

Individual tickets: $10/non-member, $9 member. Includes admission to the selected workshop for one adult and one child (additional child or adult: $7.50 each for non-members, $5 for members). Does not include Museum admission.

For information about the dinner, call Burpee Museum at (815) 965-3433 or see the Web site at www.burpee.org. Reservations are advised.

PaleoFest sponsors are: Chase Bank—presenting sponsor; SwedishAmerican Hospital—lead sponsor; Associated Bank; Cliffbreakers; Cumulus Broadcasting; Earth Science Club of Northern Illinois; Estwing Manufacturing Company; Insight Communications; Larson & Darby Group; Maverick Media; Northern Public Radio; Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau; Rockford Park District; Rockford Register Star; US Bank; Woods Equipment Company.

From the Feb. 15-21, 2006, issue

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