It's a celebration of balloons at the Field Station this weekend! Don't miss a life-sized dinosaur balloon sculpture, hot air balloon demonstrations, and the return of Balloon Dinosaurs from Around the World. Plus, weather permitting, a handful of lucky winners will get a tethered ride in the famous RE/MAX balloon!
World Champion balloon artist Mark Verge, a.k.a. Jungle Jack, will set up shop in the Field Station's yurt to create a 30-foot T-Rex using 700 balloons. We caught up with Mark in his Toronto studio.
What is your favorite balloon creation to make?
Dinosaurs are by far my favorite. They're big, they're life-sized, and at first glance they look real.
How did you get started as Jungle Jack?
When I started out doing balloons, everyone-including me-was a clown. I thought I needed a distinct persona. Since I do lots of jungle animals, I thought the character name Jungle Jack would be a nice fit. And "Jungle Jim" didn't quite work.
Do you have a day job?
No, balloon artistry is my full-time endeavor. But I used to work in a car factory driving a forklift.
What is the most elaborate piece you've ever made?
My first T-Rex was my most elaborate balloon sculpture. It took 55 hours to create and consumed more than 1,400 balloons. But the largest was my Spinosaurus: It was 42 feet long and took approximately 1,000 balloons.
What's the biggest challenge in balloon artistry?
Creating the last part of the sculpture before the first part starts deflating!
There's something magical, but also impermanent, about balloons. Do you agree?
Yes, you hit it, because balloons may only last for a short period of time. It makes them even more special. Here today, but gone tomorrow.
Do you have a dream balloon creation, one you'd like to make one day?
I've been developing and designing one for a few years, but it'll remain a secret until I do it.
Balloon Weekend sponsored by RE/MAX.
National Get Outdoors Day
"You never know what you'll find when get outdoors - adventure, history, fun, maybe even dinosaurs," says Executive Producer Guy Gsell. He continues, "For us, our setting is half the experience. It's the beautiful woods, the ancient mountain and the wonder of the Meadowlands that bring our dinosaurs to life."
On National Get Outdoors Day, we're celebrating all of this natural beauty and encouraging families to leave behind air-conditioned interiors and see what new adventures and experiences can be found in the great outdoors. In the quarry we'll be pitching Coleman tents, camp cooking and rolling out sleeping bags so that you have all of the skills you need for a future camping expedition. Make it an all day affair with a $15 add-on ticket for the Hackensack Riverkeeper's Eco-Cruise and spend the afternoon floating down the river!
"We're excited to be working with the Hackensack Riverkeeper, taking our guests on a special boat tour with spectacular views of our home on Laurel Hill and a new understanding of the vital role the Meadowlands play in the ecology of the region," says Gsell. Find out just how fun it is to get outdoors with us at the Field Station this Saturday.
Spend Memorial Day at the Field Station
Even after two hundred million years, they don't get old.
A three day weekend is an adventure. You can head off on a mini-vacation but you don't have to fight airport security. You can kick back and spend time with friends and family without gloomy Monday morning hanging over your head. Every long weekend is a memory in the making. That's especially true at Field Station: Dinosaurs.
What makes a great three day weekend? Parades, food on the grill, games, the great outdoors? We've got all that. Now add dinosaurs into the mix. Even better, right? Well, we've got dinosaurs too.
So, beat the tambourines and make some noise this weekend. Our dinosaur wranglers, (with the help of a few brave dads), are ready to parade our Chinese dragon and mighty T-Rex up and down the aisles of the Outback Steakhouse Amphitheater, where every kid is guaranteed a close-up look into the
T-Rex's lethal jaws.
As for the great outdoors, the Field Station is beautiful this time of year. We've got over a mile of wooded trails with plenty of places to sit and enjoy the scenery. We're more like a nature preserve than a theme park. Earlier this month, our ornithologist spotted twenty-seven different species of birds in just one day. (And 36 dinosaurs!)
As a special treat, our expedition commander himself, Guy Gsell, will be on hand all weekend, hosting shows, reading stories and greeting guests as he walks the Field Station's trails.
The drinks are on ice and Guy's fired up the grill. Please drop by for a spell.
The Colors of the Field Station
Nobody knows for sure what color the dinosaurs were. They may have been gray like elephants, green like lizards or even red like cardinals. At the Field Station, we encourage children to draw dinosaurs any way they want, and we smile and laugh with them as they invent new species. We don’t even make them color between the lines.
This year, we’ve done a little imagining of our own and just like our young paleo-artists, we’re expanding our color palette. The green leaves are back and the yellow forsythia is in bloom; the violet wild flowers can’t be far behind. The colors of nature provide the perfect backdrop for our dinosaurs; they seem more real tucked into the woods and even bigger than you thought set against the purple rocks of Snake Hill.
Our shows are more colorful too. In Dragons to Dinosaurs, a fiery red and gold Chinese dragon parades through the park. At Alien Rocks, kids are given an astronaut’s view of our colorful world and discover firsthand why Earth is called the “blue planet”.
At What Color is Your Dinosaur? we teach everyone how paleontologists are working to figure out what the dinosaurs looked like. We share their story and along the way we look at orange snakes, bright blue peacocks and pink hippos. Kids help us fill the canvas with color as we imagine a Mesozoic world of psychedelic dinosaurs.
The colors of the Field Station are the colors of the rainbow, the colors of science and the colors of imagination. Grab a paintbrush and come on along.
Field Station: Dinosaurs
Paleontological Advisor: Jason Schein
This week we’ll continue acquainting you with Field Station: Dinosaurs’ principle scientific advisors.
The second paleontological advisor is yours truly, Jason Schein. I was trained primarily in geology, paleontology, and paleoecology at Auburn University, where I participated in numerous research and field projects, including actualistic paleontological studies in San Salvador, Bahamas and of the fossil-rich rocks western Alabama. In addition to being the Assistant Curator of Natural History at the NJSM, I am a Ph. D. student and Adjunct Professor in geology and paleontology at Drexel University. My primary research interests involve the vertebrate faunas and ecosystems of the Late Cretaceous in the Western Interior and east coast regions of North America. Over the years, my field adventures have brought me to Patagonia, Argentina to excavate an enormous sauropod dinosaur, to South Dakota to excavate mosasaurs and plesiosaurs, and most recently, to lead paleontological expeditions in the Bighorn Basin of Montana and Wyoming. I am also the primary educator for the Bureau of Natural History at the NJSM. For a more complete look at my biography, please click here.
While David, Rod, and I are most often identified as paleontologists, we also pride ourselves on being true natural historians. Natural History is, after all, the study of everything in the natural world, and we consider ourselves to be students and lovers of nature. David and I believe that the best scientists are the ones who take the time to observe and study the natural world. Since paleontology is essentially the study of ancient nature, there’s no better way to interpret those ancient ecosystems than by understanding nature as it operates today. As the primary scientific advisors to Field Station: Dinosaurs, we are excited to apply this broad-based approach to the educational mission of the exhibition. Not only do we want to teach people about the amazing ancient reptiles featured at Field Station: Dinosaurs, we also want visitors to learn about all of the other fascinating aspects of the dinosaurs’ lives: their environment, evolution, ecosystems, behaviors, and so much more! Join us at Field Station: Dinosaurs for an amazing adventure- “9 Minutes from Manhattan. 90 Million Years Back in Time.”
Jason P. Schein
Assistant Curator of Natural History, NJSM
Welcome to Dinosaurs blog!
Hello and welcome to the official Field Station: Dinosaurs blog. We plan to bring you a new post about all things dinosaur-related, including new and fascinating discoveries, chronicles of the history of paleontology, interesting stories and anecdotes, personal reflections and adventures, and so much more!
For our first post, however, we thought we should introduce ourselves – to tell you who “we” are. Well, “we” are David Parris, Jason Schein, and Rodrigo Pellegrini; paleontologists in the Bureau of Natural History at the New Jersey State Museum (NJSM), located in Trenton, New Jersey. ”We” are excited to be the primary scientific advisors for Field Station: Dinosaurs. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be introducing ourselves, and after that, we will utilize this space to bring you all kinds of fascinating dinosaur-related news and notes.
We’ll start things off with David Parris – a man almost universally regarded as the patriarch of New Jersey paleontology. Since receiving his academic training at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and Princeton University, David Parris has enjoyed a four decade-long career as a paleontologist, primarily at the NJSM, where he is the Curator of Natural History. The breadth and depth of David’s knowledge of all things in the natural world is truly astounding. He has published well over 100 technical articles on topics as varied as Quaternary mammals of Virginia, paleosalinity of the Hudson River, Pleistocene fossils dredged from the Atlantic Continental Shelf, Pleistocene cave faunas of the New Jersey-Pennsylvania region, Cretaceous ecosystems throughout much of the western United States, and is an internationally recognized leader in the study of Cretaceous mammals and Paleozoic graptolites. In addition, he is a respected researcher in geology, archaeology, zooarchaeology, pathology, and ecology. He has and continues to work with numerous federal and state agencies throughout the country. For a more complete look at David’s accomplishments, please click here.
Jason P. Schein
Assistant Curator of Natural History, NJSM