To have a roaring good time on a day (#nationaldinosaurday) that celebrates the wonder and mystery of dinosaurs, you have your choice of attractions to visit in Michigan. We’ll help you discover where to go.
Dinosaur Gardens, Ossineke
If you love dinosaurs and getting a better idea of their true size in the flesh, then head to Dinosaur Gardens in Ossineke. A 40-acre tract of land has been transformed into a literal dinosaur garden, with 27 life-sized reproductions of birds and dinosaurs. You’ll enjoy exploring the Northern Michigan woods and coming across these statues; you can walk under and around them as much as you please. On the plus side, you can take in a game of mini golf before or after exploration. Visit www.dinosaurgardensllc.com for more information.
University of Michigan Museum of Natural History, Ann Arbor
There’s a lot to see at this free-to-visit museum on the campus of the University of Michigan, but for dinosaur enthusiasts, head to the exhibit, “Evolution: Life Through Time” on the second floor. According to the website, you’ll journey through nearly four billion years of organisms, including dinosaurs. Look for Majungasaurus and Dolichorhynchops. Though not a dinosaur, check out the Trail of the Mastadons, a male and female pair discovered and excavated with help from U-M scientists, within a few hours’ drive from Ann Arbor! It’s the only place in the world where you can see such a pair side by side. Step into a cast of a mastodon footprint to get an idea of how giant these creatures truly were! Visit https://lsa.umich.edu/ummnh for hours and a complete list of exhibits.
Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills
Among the permanent exhibits is “Life Changes Over Time,” which features a full-size Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton cast. You can examine both natural selection and evolution, discover which dinosaur features are commonly shared with birds, and how ancient birds themselves had dinosaur-like features. A changing exhibit not to be missed and available at Cranbrook until April 2023 is “Sue: The T. rex Encounter.” Sue is one of the most complete and largest T. rex specimens ever found (the original bones are in Chicago). According to the description, “In addition to the new technologies and interactives that make SUE’s world come alive, this exhibition highlights new scientific discoveries about T. rex in general and SUE in particular.” Get hands on and immerse yourself in the prehistoric. More information can be found at https://science.cranbrook.edu/.
Western Michigan University Dinosaur Park, Kalamazoo
A favorite destination for local families with budding archeologists, Dinosaur Park is on the campus of Western Michigan University. Five life-like and life-sized replicas of some favorite dinosaurs are on display for everyone to examine – and to have a little fun. It’s not just about seeing an impressive 17-foot-tall brontosaurus, it’s also about inviting visitors, especially kids, to explore earth sciences and primitive history. Additional plans are in the works for future outdoor exhibits and classes, making this a truly outdoor learning space.
Where have dinosaur fossils been found in Michigan?
Honestly, the glaciers that carved the Great Lakes and made our beautiful state into the shape of a mitten are the same ones that scraped any native dinosaur fossils away. So, no fossils have been found of any lizard-like persuasion. Fossils for brachiopods (shelled animals), Cephalopods (mollusks), and coral have been discovered. That’s due to the region’s history as a shallow saltwater sea – full of ocean life – even before glaciers moved through. The northeast region of Michigan, which has a lot of limestone, preserves these perfectly. Visit the Besser Museum or Rockport State Recreation Area, near Alpena.