The Lafayette Science Museum is moving out its exhibit of towering Jurassic skeletons to make way for a new crop of dinosaurs and ancient mammals.
The exhibit “Fossil Giants: Dinosaurs & Mammals Part 1” will run through Sunday at the downtown museum.
The new exhibit is set to open April 4.
The fossils, rocks and large casts of dinosaur skeletons inhabiting the exhibit hall, including beasts like the predatory Allosaurus and the plant-eating Camptosaurus, will yield to the second wave of dinosaurs and mammals from the Cretaceous period.
“We really want to make a push to get people in the museum this weekend because once it’s gone, it won’t be back,” said museum Administrator Kevin Krantz. “This exhibit will probably be the last time anyone will get to see these fossils.”
The exhibit is split into three parts over three years, and each will tackle different prehistoric periods.
Part one takes museumgoers back 200 million years to the Jurassic period, the period when the supercontinent Pangaea began drifting apart to become the seven continents we have today.
Among the dinosaurs on display through the weekend is the Torvosaurus, the ancient predecessor to the Tyrannosaurus rex.
Part two will showcase the Cretaceous period, known by paleontologists as the last “age of dinosaurs” before the Ice Age wiped them off the planet.
The final part of the exhibit, which will showcase the post-ice age mammalian world of the Cenozoic period, won’t be installed until next year.
The first two parts focus on dinosaurs, but the last is dominated by the mammals of the Cenozoic, a period that spans from the dinosaurs’ mass extinction to today.
“The final exhibit is going to be immense,” Krantz said.
The “Fossil Giants” series of exhibits grew out of a partnership with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s School of Geosciences and the museum.
Krantz said “Fossil Giants” is one of the largest dinosaur and mammal cast exhibits in the country, Krantz said. Many museums may only have one or two casts on display at a time.
“This is truly one of the biggest offerings around,” he said.
The fossil casts used in the exhibits are owned by Utah company DinoLab.
Krantz said the exhibit is dedicated to the company’s founders, pioneering paleontologists James and Sue Madsen. James Madsen passed away in 2009. DinoLab has designed and built dinosaur exhibits for natural history museums worldwide.