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Glazer Children's Museum is opening Tampa Bay's first large-scale dinosaur exhibition

The fossil remains of a massive triceratops named Big John
Glazer Children's Museum
Massive triceratops fossil, 'Big John.'

The exhibit will be the first time the Tampa Bay region will have a large-scale dinosaur on display.

This Memorial Day weekend, the museum will unveil the largest triceratops fossil ever found.

Big John is roughly the size of an RV. And it's about to make its debut at the Glazer Children's Museum in downtown Tampa.

The museum's marketing vice president, Kate White, said it will be the first time the greater Tampa Bay region will have a large-scale dinosaur on display.

This particular triceratops, known as Big John, "weighed about six tons in life. He is about 26 feet long. What's really cool is his skull alone is 775 pounds," said White.

Big John takes his name from the owner of the property on which he was found. That was in South Dakota's Hell Creek geological formation in 2014. Paleontologist Walter Stein discovered it.

Walter Stein uncovering Big John
Courtesy of Walter Stein
Walter Stein uncovering Big John

Big John's kind roamed the planet in the Late Cretaceous period, nearly 70 million years ago. The creature was a vegetarian and had to consume whole trees to maintain its bulk.

This fossil holds the Guinness World Recordfor largest documented skeleton of a triceratops.

It was bought at auction in 2021 by the Pagidipati family of Tampa for around $8 million. Sidd Pagidipati said he's been fascinated by the notion of dinosaurs roaming the Earth since he was a child.

"Our interest in purchasing Big John and other specimens is first and foremost to make them available to the public and for research," Pagidipati said. "We want to do our part to help the Tampa Bay area become the best place in our country for families to live and raise their children."

Rendering of Big John Exhibition
Courtesy of Glazer Children's Museum
Rendering of Big John Exhibition

The triceratops will make its North American debut as the centerpiece of a new exhibition at Glazer Children's Museum this Memorial Day weekend. And White said major changes have been made to accommodate the display, which will be open to everyone.

"There's this wonderful tunnel. underneath the stage, that Big John has mounted on that you can crawl underneath— all children and flexible grownups will be able to get in there. And there's these big clear domes, like you see in a zoo, where you can pop up and actually see the skeleton from a different perspective underneath," White said.

Pre-sale tickets for the dinosaur exhibition have been underway since the beginning of this month.

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