South Jersey Fossil Park to Receive $25 Million Transformation

Photography by David Michael Howarth

Not everyone gets the chance to participate in a real-life dinosaur dig, but for the residents of South Jersey that dream can become a reality thanks to two Rowan alumni.

Jean and Ric Edelman announced on Monday, October 10, a pledge of $25 million to expand and preserve Rowan University Fossil Park where researchers and visitors have unearthed thousands of fossils from the Cretaceous Period.

For four years, excavators have sifted through layers of the park, stumbling upon sea turtles, sharks, crocodiles and more. Researchers are exploring the site to determine if it is related to the extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

The park, now to be named the Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park, was purchased by the university for $1.95 million in January 2016. Nearly 15,000 people have visited the former marl pit in Mantua Township since 2012 to search for 65-million-year-old fossils.

The Edelman’s gift is the second largest in Rowan’s history. It will contribute to plans for a state-of-the-art museum and visitor center, a fossil preparation lab, a nature trail, a paleontology-themed playground, social spaces for special events, and programs that will allow students and families to participate in paleontological digs at the site.

Marianne Aleardi got an inside look at the park from its director, founding dean of Rowan’s School of Earth & Environment, Dr. Kenneth Lacovara.




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