Even if some putz at NBC4 was disappointed because he was expecting real live velociraptors, yes, Laurel‘s Dinosaur Park is almost complete and, if you ask us, it’s probably one the best things that Prince George’s County has ever blown tax dollars on.
Culled from a 7.5 acre swath of an under construction office park not far from Greenbelt, the site last made headlines when an amateur paleontologist unearthed a two-foot leg bone of a giant plated ankylosaurus there in 2006. But the history of Dinosaur Park dates back much farther — 1850s far, when the surrounding 40-acres hosted an iron mining operation staffed by slaves.
Since that time, P.G. County’s newest recreational destination has surrendered bits and pieces of a 60-foot-long brachiosaur, along with the fossilized remains of ancient proto-crocodiles, sharks, and turtles. Most of the site’s finds date from 115 million years ago — smack dab in the middle of the Cretaceous period — when most of Maryland was still a coastal bayou.
Dinosaur Park — dedicated by parks and recreation brass just this week, but not yet officially open to the public — will spotlight several of the exposed fossil beds that made the area a favorite for a century’s worth of dinosaur hunters. Park planners have even taken the experience one step further by replanting ginkgo trees, ferns and other species that were native to the Maryland of 10,000,000 BC.
The park is located in southern Laurel, one half-mile east of the intersection of Mid Atlantic Boulevard and Contee Road. A professional team from the Smithsonian is currently sweeping the it for any undiscovered finds, but PG County officials to plan to open the park for public tours on the first and third Saturday afternoons of each month.