“Dinosaurs of Maryland” is a collaboration between the Calvert Marine Museum, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Prince George’s County Government, and local fossil collectors.
While many are familiar with Miocene epoch shark teeth from Calvert Cliffs, less well known is the fact that the state of Maryland also preserves fossils from the age of dinosaurs. Fossils from the Early Cretaceous period are very rare east of the Mississippi River and there are only a handful of fossiliferous Mesozoic sites in the Eastern United States. Maryland features some of the most productive fossil sites, including the Dinosaur Park site in Muirkirk. The sediments in Dinosaur Park are approximately 110 million years old (from the Potomac Formation). At that time, Maryland was predominately a delta ecosystem, similar to modern Louisiana. The fossil plants consisted of ferns, cycads, conifers, and primitive broadleaf trees similar to sycamores and magnolias. Pine cones are some of the most common fossils from the Arundel Clay and are from a relative of the sequoia.
Another prolific fossil unit in Maryland is the Severn Formation, which is Late Cretaceous in age (86-70 million years ago). The Severn is similar to the Calvert Formation in that both are marine deposits. The Severn preserves fossil fish, crocodiles, turtles, mosasaurs, and plesiosaurs. Mosasaurs were giant marine reptiles closely related to modern day lizards and snakes, which lived in the oceans during the time of dinosaurs. Mosasaur teeth are the most common marine reptile fossil within the Severn Formation, and will be on display in the exhibit. Plesiosaurs are also marine reptiles that lived during the time of dinosaurs. Plesiosaurs are commonly thought of as Loch Ness monster-looking creatures, but they came in a diverse array of shapes and sizes. Only a few plesiosaur bones are known from the Severn Formation, and they belong to a long necked plesiosaur known as Cimoliasaurus.
Cost: Admission is $9.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors, military with valid I.D., AAA and AARP members, and $4.00 for children ages 5 - 12; children under 5 and museum members are always admitted free.