The Burpee Museum is a Hot Spot for Paleontology
The Burpee Museum of Natural History is a great place to head to if you’re interested in paleontology. The museum is small but packed with exciting dinosaur related discoveries. On this May 6, Scott Williams conducted a lecture to get visitors acquainted with the history and current activities of the Burpee Museum of Natural History. The purpose of the lecture is to recount the exciting discoveries found along this area of the Western United States as well as to detail the museums ongoing research and activities.
Scott Williams Recently Spoke at the Burpee Museum
Williams is director of Exhibits and Science at the Burpee Museum and oversees the museum’s collections, exhibits and facilities. He is also a part of the collections and research staff. The museum has been a vital part of William’s life since he was a child. He started volunteering at the young age of 13 and left a career in law enforcement to work full time at Burpee. His interest in paleontology led him to an A.S. degree at Rock Valley College, which was followed by a B.S. degree at NIU, which he is currently pursuing in the department of Geology and Environmental Sciences. William’s passion and expertise make him an invaluable asset to the museum as well as a riveting speaker.
An Incredible Jurassic Find for the Burpee Museum
William has been directly involved in much of the exciting field work going on at Burpee in the last few years. In 2008, he personally led the team which discovered a late Jurassic aged dinosaur bone bed that turned out to be one of the largest found in the last several decades, causing it to be dubbed one of National Geographic’s Top 10 Fossil Finds. Williams also helped on the expedition which helped find Jane and Homer, an event which was chronicled in an hour long Discovery Channel special called The Mystery Dinosaur.
Somewhat of a local celebrity, Williams has been busy giving hundreds of presentations and scientific papers in the past decade. Aside from managing he exhibits, he also plans the PaleoFest event each year.
Burpee Museum Has Some Great Paleontological Exhibits
One of Illinois’ gems, Burpee is home to truly amazing dinosaur specimens. One of the exciting discoveries at Burpee is “Jane,” the most complete remains of a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex. “Jane” was discovered by Carol Tuck and Bill Harrison and named after museum benefactor Jane Solem. It took a four year long ordeal to prepare “Jane” for display at the museum, an exhibit now called “Jane: Diary of a Dinosaur.” Her skeleton is 21 feet long and she was only 11 years old when she died. An adult sized dinosaur of Jane’s species resides at Chicago’s Field Museum and goes by the name of “Sue.” Sue was an adult at death and her skeleton is twice as large as Jane’s at a whopping 43 feet long. In 2007, Jane was even nominated as one of Illinois’ natural wonders.
Field Work for the Burpee Museum
These are just some of the wild discoveries at the Burpee Museum. In 2000, Burpee’s team began conducting field work in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana, where Cretaceous era remains can be found. This era harks back to the days of raptors, armored ankylosaurs and duck-billed dinos. In 2008, they began collecting specimens from the Jurassic Period, which is when the Hanksville-Burpee bone bed was found. This dino graveyard is a quarter of a mile long. It is a relic of an ancient river system in which animals would die and eventually be buried. Skeletons of half a dozen dinosaurs have been found here within a month and a half. In 2010, a Triceratops site was found, where discoveries are still being made. In 2011, excavations continued in Utah, where a Diplodocus named “Jimmy” was discovered.
What makes this month’s lecture so special is that it is a part of the 70th Anniversary of Burpee Museum Lecture Series in the memory of Steve Ellis, who died on November 5, 2011. Ellis served on many of the community boards in Rockford and was charman of the Governance Committee at the Burpee Museum. Ellis was passionate about having programs about natural histories for the community.
The next monthly lecture at the Burpee Museum will be given by Dr Rochelle Lurie on the topic of the “Archeology of Northern Illinois” on Septemer 23.