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The April Fool Strikes Again: Dinosaur Finds Halt Construction at Crystal Bridges          

© Stephen Ironside/Ironside Photography

Bentonville — As workers were making improvements to Crystal Bridges’ trails last week, an unexpected discovery forced them to halt all construction while scientists study the find.  A backhoe operator was moving earth near the site of a new elevator tower under construction on the museum grounds when his bucket turned up the fossilized shoulder bone of an early Cretaceous dinosaur known as Arkansaurus fridayi.

 

Arkansaurus was first discovered in Lockesburg, Arkansas, in 1972, but has made more recent headlines when it was named the official State Dinosaur of Arkansas earlier this year. Up to now, only one example of the species had been found in the state. The Crystal Bridges find brings that number up to ten or more.

Cast reconstruction of Arkansaurus fridayii. Courtesy University of Arkansas Museum Collections.

 

Construction work was halted when the fossil was discovered, and paleontologists were called in to identify the bones. Subsequent excavation at the site have now turned up additional fragments of as many as nine individual Arkansaurus specimens, and additional discoveries related provide evidence of additional dinosaurs living in this region.

 

Once the first specimens had been removed from the museum grounds, scientists began working to extract the fossilized bones from the rocky matrix in which they had been imprisoned for more than 100 million years, using brushes and small dental tools to gently chip the rock and dirt away from the bones. During this process, they made a startling discovery: embedded deep in one of the vertebra of the Arkansaur’s neck was the broken tooth of an extremely large theropod, a group of dinosaurs that includes large carnivores such as Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus.

Carnivore tooth discovered among fossil remains at Crystal Bridges

 

Paleontologist Jess Kidden, who specializes in theropods, visited the lab to inspect the tooth, and has determined that it is, in fact, the tooth of an enormous meat-eating dinosaur of a type heretofore unknown to science.

 

 

Paleontologist Ima Fakir provides possible explanations as to why so many specimens of Arkansaurus would be found in a single location. “It’s possible the dinosaurs were herded into this narrow ravine,” he said.  “This new dinosaur might be working cooperatively with others, or it could be a highly intelligent therapod−much more intelligent than we had previously believed any dinosaur could be.”

Artist rendering by Jakub Hałun

 

The scientists working on the find have dubbed the new dinosaur Saurocrystallus bridgii, in honor of the location of its discovery.  Excavations are ongoing on the site, as paleontologists continue to find additional fossils.

 

Crystal Bridges is quickly exploring ways to make the dinosaur discovery accessible to museum visitors. Plans are underway for a glass-bottomed bridge which will span the dig site, allowing visitors to observe the ongoing excavation in process through the summer.  In addition, paleontologists and artists are working with a firm specializing in dinosaur reconstruction, to develop a life-sized cast of Saurocrystalus to be installed on the museum grounds next summer, and plans are underway to construct a special Dinosaur Art pavilion at the site to celebrate artworks inspired by the discovery.

 

“Of course we’re excited about the dinosaur find,” said Rod Bigelow, executive director of Crystal Bridges. “Dinosaur art is a traditionally underappreciated aspect of contemporary artistic practice, but we mean to change that in the next year.”

 

The dig-site observation bridge, dinosaur sculpture, and Dinosaur Art pavilion will be free to the public.

 

 

 

April Fools!

Yes, I’m sorry to report that there are, in fact, no dinosaur fossils at Crystal Bridges.

You can click here to check out our previous April Fools Day posts.

Or click here to learn about some of the greatest April Fools Day hoaxes of all time, courtesy of the Museum of Hoaxes in San Diego, California.

 

 

Linda DeBerry
Senior Copy Editor / Publications Manager

47 Comments

  1. Ckhutch@gmail.com' Chad says:

    Hahahaha, I see what you did there

  2. tone.marconi@cumulus.com' Antonia Watkins says:

    I so hope that the dinosaur story is not an April fools joke. I really want to believe it. I don’t think the theropod tooth is real and I know that the state dinosaur was recently named after the young man that discovered it.
    Still I want to believe. How fun would it be to discover dinosaurs at Crystal Bridges!

    • Linda DeBerry says:

      It was an April Fools joke sprinkled with just enough truth to make it believable, I’m afraid. No dinosaurs were found here, just lots of great artworks!

  3. hiltj.c@gmail.com' Julie says:

    Paleontologist Jess Kidden! Best news article I’ve read all day or on this date any recent year!

  4. dolander3@cox.net' Charyl Olander says:

    WOW!!! can’t wait to see everything. Another big draw for your wonderful Museum.

    • Linda DeBerry says:

      Thank you for the compliment. Our April Fools dinosaurs are just a funny fiction, but I hope you come visit us soon, anyway. Dale Chihuly’s beautiful glass sculptures on the grounds this summer will be well worth the trip. Even without dinosaurs!

  5. Todo3@att.net' Charlene Bauer says:

    What a find!! Could not happened to a more wonderful place!! Amazing!!

    • Linda DeBerry says:

      I’m glad you find Crystal Bridges to be wonderful! I do too! Even without dinosaurs, which are, sadly, only an April Fools fiction.

  6. Kelsodana@gmail.com' Dana kelso says:

    Hi Linda,
    How funny, you are dealing with dinosaurs again!
    Hope you are doing well!
    Dana Kelso

    • Linda DeBerry says:

      Hi Dana! I have been looking for a way to get dinosaurs into my job! Unfortunately, these are pure fiction. But good April Fools fun!

  7. Cdebes@cox.net' Connie Debes says:

    Is this real or an April Fools?

  8. mchaney123@yahoo.com' Mike Chaney says:

    Well played! Ima Fakir & Jess Kiddin 😀

  9. stellalunafluffy@aol.com' Jolyne says:

    I had been researching a return trip to Crystal Bridges for this summer. Now I HAVE to go!

    • Linda DeBerry says:

      Oh please do! Even though our April Fools dinosaurs are not real, there will be some very real and very beautiful artwork on the grounds this summer when our outdoor Dale Chihuly exhibition opens June 1!

  10. drhrcrs@yahoo.com' Diana Haseman says:

    This is so exciting. I can’t believe this is in our back yard so to speak. Please send out more info and pictures as are available. I wish I could be part of the dig. Congratulations on the find.

    • Linda DeBerry says:

      Sorry to disappoint, Diana. No dinosaurs at Crystal Bridges, I’m afraid. Lots more to see, though. And if you are interested in participating in a dig, I do know that the Arkansas Archaeological Society takes volunteers!

  11. Iamnolongerhappy@gmail.com' Very disappointed says:

    Was this an April fools post or not. The news said it was. I was really looking forward to seeing the mesuem next week but I will no longer be going.

    • Linda DeBerry says:

      I do hope you change your mind. Crystal Bridges has had fun putting out nearly plausible blog posts on April Fools Day since our blog began. We certainly never want to dissuade anyone from coming to enjoy the wonderful artworks, breathtaking architecture, and beautiful grounds that our museum has to offer. I think if you can overcome your disappointment, you’ll be very pleased you made the trip.

  12. Bneedham@wyandotte.k12.ok.us' Brent Needham says:

    Ima Fakir….not funny. I had my suspicions. The northern part of Arkansas was covered with a shallow ocean millions of years ago. Could a dinosaur have been washed to the Bentonville area? Highly unlikely, but not impossible. Then came the addition of adding that a therapod tooth was discovered imbedded in its vertebrate. An extremely rare occurance. No therapods have been discovered in Arkansas. Then came the picture of a tooth that is obviously from a Tyrannosaurus. Come on. I was seriously excited about the possibility of something that was higher up on the paleontological scale then crinoids. Shame, shame. I weep along with the disappointed masses of children in the Ozarks.

    • Linda DeBerry says:

      Awwww, so sorry. But your dinosaur knowledge is good! Yes, there are no dinosaurs in Arkansas (except for that lonely Arkansaurus, apparently) because it was underwater. But there are some great invertebrate fossils in some of the limestone. (Don’t diss crinoids, they’re pretty cool!) You pegged the illustration and the tooth, as well. I think an acrocanthosaurus illustration would have been more exciting. But we couldn’t find any that were free to use.

  13. Bneedham@wyandotte.k12.ok.us' Brent Needham says:

    By the way, the “artist rendering” of the theropod is of the statue of an Allosaurus from Jurassic Park in Bartow, Poland.

    So excited and then so disappointed.

    • Linda DeBerry says:

      Sorry to disappoint with the lack of dinosaurs. But we do have some truly amazing works of American art at Crystal Bridges, and the dogwoods are blooming! So come see us!

  14. geraldgreen3@ox.net' G. Green says:

    Is this an April fools day post or real?

  15. aandp.griffin@gmail.com' Cyndie says:

    Great joke, guys! Had my dad going for a while. lol

  16. charlesarbaugh@att.net' Charles Arbaugh says:

    is this true, or a april fools joke?

  17. gnarley@gmail.com' Dave says:

    With “Paleontologist Jess Kidden” and “Ima Fakir” noted in the above article, this is undoubtedly very well written and conceived “April Fools” joke, especially since a footnote was not added to the article noting “April Fools!” Sad that a “museum” has tarnished it’s credibility in the interest of making a joke. What else at the museum is “fake”?

    • Linda DeBerry says:

      Awwwww, have some fun. We’ve been doing April Fools posts every year since our inception. There are no dinosaurs. But the art is real, and we promise you’ll have a REALly great experience if you visit Crystal Bridges!

  18. sagemom1111@gmail.com' sage says:

    nice article CB! i actually believed it until the paleontologist’s names were pointed out. April Fool’s!

  19. paddle_us@yahoo.com' Pat Tinsley says:

    is this april fools?

  20. shouston@ritternet.com' Susan Houston says:

    What accommodations are there for the handicapped?

    • Linda DeBerry says:

      Hi Susan: Crystal Bridges is handicapped accessible throughout, and when our north elevator tower opens in June, the North Forest Trail will also be accessible. No dinosaurs, I’m afraid. But there will be a beautiful exhibition of glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly on the trail this summer!

  21. sarah.lynne1990@gmail.com' Sarah Spradlin says:

    I shared this post on Facebook and I have people saying that this is only an April Fool’s joke. Is it a real article?

  22. sara_ress@hotmail.com' Sara Wittenberg says:

    Is this an April Fool’s joke?? I shared on my Facebook page, I was SO excited, and already have 2 science teachers planning a field trip, then someone told me they thought it was. Please clarify!!

    • Linda DeBerry says:

      Yes, Sara, it’s an April Fools joke. I hope we haven’t disappointed you too much. Crystal Bridges is still a great place for teachers to visit, even without dinosaur fossils!

  23. Retagop@aol.com' Reta Hamilton says:

    There is a 150 th celebration of Frank Lloyd Wright going on this year across the country, but especially at Taliesin West in Arizona. Will Crystal Bridges do something to celebrate?

    • Linda DeBerry says:

      We will be offering special Birthday tours of the Bachman-Wilson House all day (tickets will still be required), and a Frank Lloyd Wright Family Fun event from 5 to 7 p.m. with some activities and birthday cake! Artinfusion, our young patrons’ group, is also holding an event later that evening. These events are not posted live on the museum calendar yet, but will be coming soon. Thanks for asking!

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