Dinosaurs in New Jersey

The world around us was a very different place when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Many familiar plants and animals didn’t exist and land masses had not yet formed the continents we know today. Now, an attraction in New Jersey is helping visitors picture their backyards with the dinosaurs that used to inhabit them.


The world around us was a very different place when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

Many familiar plants and animals didn't exist.

And landmasses had not yet formed the continents we know today.

Now an attraction in New Jersey is helping visitors picture their backyards with the dinosaurs that used to inhabit them.

Reporter Andrea Vasquez took a trip to Field Station Dinosaurs.

Take a trip to Leonia, New Jersey, and you'll travel more than 65 million years back in time, when the sights and sounds of dinosaurs dominated the landscape.

At Field Station Dinosaurs, towering animatronic dinos let visitors imagine the prehistoric world this land used to hold.

My favorite part was looking at all the dinosaurs and seeing the

As a kid, I think, at this point, just the, uh, discovery process of, like, seeing how amazing things were.

The park's creator, Guy Gsell, shares visitors' awe, his own interest sparked as a child at the 1965 World's Fair in New York.

Probably one of my earliest memories 'cause as you can imagine, I was pretty little in 1965.

But I remember seeing those -- those great Sinclair dinosaurs that were at that exhibit.

So that has stayed with me my whole life.

Decades later, he paired his prehistoric passion with years spent directing theater and large-scale exhibits.

And I put it all together in one place.

And it's been a blast ever since.

The dinosaurs include several locals to the area, like the hadrosaurus, a 25-foot, 17,000-pound dinosaur whose fossils were some of the first to be discovered in North America less than 100 miles from here in Haddonfield, New Jersey.

The first dinosaurs bones were really discovered here in New Jersey at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

Those scientists kept coming out to New Jersey to the marl pits of New Jersey.

Marl is literally the bed of an ancient ocean that used to be on top of New Jersey.

So that... All of the ancient animals and all of the sea life fell to the bottom of that ancient ocean.

And over millions of years, it compressed and decomposed and became marl, which is this very rich soil, the exact conditions you need to find dinosaur bones.

It is literally why we're called the Garden State.

With an ideal environment and a wealth of fossils, the area became a hub of paleontology.

And Gsell tapped into the resource, teaming up with experts to help design the dinos.

And then we went to, believe it or not, roboticists and animatronic companies from California to Florida to Japan and China and shopped around and figured out who was making the best dinosaurs but also who was willing to work with our paleontologists to make sure that the dinosaurs matched our standards.

The robotic creatures move, roar, blink and breathe.

At least, they sound like it.


The 33 dinosaurs are all life-sized, though they did not all reach the heights Hollywood would have us believe.

Here, we teach kids all day long that scientists don't mind when we make mistakes because science can't move forward unless we're brave enough to make mistakes and smart enough to learn from them.

And then we tell them, in the movies, they make mistakes on purpose all the time.

The velociraptor, for instance, is only about the size of a -- a wild turkey.

So in the movie 'Jurassic Park,' this guy would've been as high as the -- as the bamboo.

But in real life, this is how big they were.

This is a full-grown one?

This is a full-grown velociraptor.

The dinosaurs are mostly in their natural habitats.

The herbivores graze together while others perch near the trees and tuck into the bushes.

You read about the stuff.

But when you come and see it, I think that's the most amazing part of this place is that, you know, you just walk in.

And you look behind you and around you.

It's like, 'Wow.

How did these things even come about?'

The dinosaurs were right here.

They lived in the same place.

They're not from outer space.

They're not magical.

They lived right here.

And there are places in New Jersey where even little kids can go and find dinosaur fossils.

The budding paleontologists here get a hands-on, interactive experience to connect them with the ancient past.

Field Station Dinosaurs is a working scientific expedition.

So we ask that you guys come on into this -- the park with the mind of a scientist, ready to learn new things and discover.

You guys ready to be scientists today?

There's some ages where it's, like, every kid loves dinosaurs.

Like -- like -- like, 7-year-olds, it's just, like, every 7-year-old loves dinosaurs.

I knew a lot about dinosaurs before I came here.

So we take that love and passion for -- for the dinosaurs, and we turn that into a love and a passion for science and learning.

And we turn every little kid who comes here into a scientist.

Obviously, anything hands-on, experiencing something, is more than just reading about it or watching a video.

Hands-on, doing it, seeing it, it sinks in a lot more.

And it keeps 'em more engaged, for sure.

Many of these young scientists are building on an already impressive expertise.

One of the most -- most biggest theories in the world are an asteroid that killed all the dinosaurs, that wiped them all out.

But it didn't do all the dinosaurs because only in the late Cretaceous, they all died.

So that was only one little piece.