Paul Sereno: African Dinosaurs Exhibit at Burpee Museum

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A 1997 “People Magazine”  sporting Paul Sereno as one of 50 most beautiful people was autographed and auctioned off for $80 last night at the 13th annual Paleofest hosted by the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford, Illinois.  Sereno’s appearance was “part of the package” for his traveling exhibit of African dinosaurs, “Splendid Isolation: Africa’s Cretaceous Dinosaur.”

Fourteen years since the article in People, Sereno still looked as though he jumped right out of “Indiana Jones.”

I see paleontology as ‘adventure with a purpose.’  Paul Sereno

“People are attracted to the adventuresome lifestyle,” says the 5’10” Sereno, who has made documentaries for PBS and written about his expeditions for National Geographic…. “Maybe so, but Sereno’s passion for his work is also part of the appeal,” says wife Gabrielle. (8)

Last year, 1,300 tickets were sold for PaleoFest activities. This year at Saturday night’s lecture Scott Williams, Burpee’s exhibits director, said he expected a bigger crowd because of the African dinosaurs exhibit and was delighted to announce that, to-date, they already had 3,025 visitors for ‘Giants.’  The ‘Giants: African Dinosaurs’ exhibit will be on display through May 15th.

“This is the only exhibit that has all of the African dinosaurs found by Dr. Paul Sereno,” said May Her, business sales manager for Project Exploration in Chicago. ” (8) Dr. Sereno and his wife, Gabrielle Lyon, founded Project Exploration, a non-profit science education organization,  to encourage city kids to pursue careers in science.

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One of Sereno’s dinosaurs, a 70-foot longneck dinosaur, is being displayed outside of Macy’s at the CherryVale Mall not only to help promote Paleofest, but because it was too big for the Burpee Museum.

This years sponsors included Harris Bank, ESCONI Rock Club of Northern Illinois, Cherryvale Mall, CoCo Key Water Resort at Clock Tower Resort, Engine Studio, Estwing, Larson & Darby, Project Exploration, RACVB, Rockford Park District, Sjostrom & Sons, Stockholm Inn, Swedish American Medical Foundation, and Mr. Frank Tully.
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Paul Sereno autographing an Estwing hammer before his dinner lecture on Saturday night.

Sereno’s most widely publicized discovery is that of a nearly complete specimen of Sarcosuchus imperator (popularly known as SuperCroc) at Gadoufaoua in the Tenere desert of Niger. (7)

Other major discoveries include Eoraptor, Jobaria (pictured)–a 70′ long plant-eater, IMG_0613
Deltadromeus –a 30′ long and the most fleet-footed meat-eater,IMG_0626
the first good skull of  Carcharodontosaurus–a huge, T. rex-sized meat-eater,IMG_0636
Afrovenator-a 27′ long meat-eater,IMG_0622
Suchomimus–a bizarre fish-eating dinosaur with huge claws and a sail on its back,IMG_0617
and the African pterosaur….

Sereno has studied dinosaur fossils in South America, Asia, Australia and Africa in his effort to reconstruct the dinosaur family tree and understand how the movement of the continents affected dinosaur evolution. By doing so, he hopes to map dinosaur descent by tracing the many evolutionary changes recorded in dinosaur skeletons. (7)

Related
If I Could Turn Back Time: Over a Decade With ESCONI
Project Exploration
Mid-America Paleontology Society
Mazon Creek Fossils
Chicagoland Gem and Mineral Show
Earth Science Club of Northern Illinois

References
1.  Weise, E. New dog-sized dinosaur discovered. USA Today. Posted on usatoday.com January 13, 2011, accessed January 13, 2011.
2.  Scientist’s Finds Spur New Thinking on Dino Evolution. National Geographic News. Posted on news.nationalgeographic.com February 19, 2002, accessed January 13, 2011…
4.  Martinez, R. N. et al. 2011. A Basal Dinosaur from the Dawn of the Dinosaur Era in Southwestern Pangaea. Science. 331 (6014): 206-210.
5.  Quotes from leading evolutionists show that they disagree about how each supposed major evolutionary transition among vertebrates is supposed to fit into an evolutionary narrative.
6.  Theropods have no known non-theropod ancestor, but the study’s authors wrote, “The earliest dinosaurs had already evolved the most functionally important trophic and locomotor features characterizing ornithischians, sauropodomorphs, and theropods” (Martinez et al, A Basal Dinosaur). As such, the suddenness of the occurrence of fully formed dinosaurs, already arrayed into their major categorized forms, is “like a Cambrian radiation in terms of tremendous diversity,” according to Sereno…
7.  University of Chicago, Paul Sereno
6.  Rockford Register Star, “The Dinosaurs on Display at Burpee Aren’t Ones You’ve Seen Before.  Feb. 16, 2011
7.  Paul Sereno Wikipedia
8.  People Magazine, Paul Sereno, May 12, 1997.

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