The journey of Magyarosaurus dacus across Europe

©Brian Cooley

All the paleontological treasures found since the beginning of the 20th century proved the former Hateg Island in the Tethys Sea was a unique area roamed by dwarf dinosaurs 70 million years ago. Hatzeg Geopark is working towards a museum dedicated to the Dinosaurs of Transylvania, as a unique opportunity to draw the attention of the public to the importance of scientific research, art and the role Geoparks can play in sustaining both.

A national partnership led by dr Antoneta Seghedi, the great enthusiasm and fine art of two Canadian paleoartists, Brian Cooley and Marry Ann Wilson, and the financial support of 127 backers were the first steps for a big transcontinental adventure. A full-size scientific accurate replica of Magyarosaurus dacus travelled in June and July 2014 from Canada across Europe and Romania to reach its "home" in Haţeg Country Dinosaurs Geopark.

The seven meter long sauropod started its cross-continental excursion in Antwerp then received an enthusiastic response from Parisians and a strong support from Patrick J Mc Keever, Chief of Earth Sciences and Geohazard Risk Reduction Section at the UNESCO, to visit other two of the 59 Global Geoparks in Europe. Arriving from France the dinosaur made a short stop at the World Heritage Site Messel Pit in the German Bergstrasse-Odenwald Geopark. A few days later it entered the Hungarian Bakony–Balaton Geopark where it was introduced to the public in Balatonfüred, a beautiful spa at Lake Balaton. The replica also stayed for one day at the Eastern Gate of the Geopark, the Lavender House Visitor Centre in Tihany where visitors could participate in a dino-workshop and a presentation on the dinosaur fossils of the Carpathian Basin by Dr. Attila Ősi, an internationally renowned palaeontologist and discoverer of the Hungarian dinosaur findings. The Lavender House interprets the exceptionally rich natural heritage of Tihany Peninsula and it is one of the several geotourism possibilities of the Geopark and of Balaton Uplands National Park. The dinosaur continued its journey via Budapest where it was photographed in front of the beautiful Art Nouveau-style building of the Hungarian Geological and Geophysical Institution.

Entering Romania Magyarosaurus has a warm welcome by media and fans and was invited by Asociatia OviduRo to visit a childhood education centre in Budila. Children than never been to a museum and many of them didn’t even know what a dinosaur was started to touch the dinosaur in seeming disbelief, some hugged the legs then jumped up and down in happiness, rocking Magyarosaurus. The trip continued to an aspiring geopark area, Buzau Land Geopark then reached Danube Delta and Black Sea coast to take a refreshing dip and visit research facilities of GeoEcoMar, one of the main sponsor and project partner. Short stops in Bucharest in front of the National Geology Museum and University of Bucharest allowed press and people to find out more about the trip, Hateg dinosaurus and geopark projects.

On July 23rd hundreds of children, tourists and media offered a very warm welcome to Magyarosaurus dacus in Haţeg Geopark and instantly accepted it as symbol of the future Transylvanian Dinosaur Museum.

The journey of the Magyarosaurus dacus will be the subject of a documentary film made by a Canadian tv crew. Apart of its scientific, cultural and educational impact the project was an excellent example of the power of European Geoparks Network and was a great opportunity to draw the attention of the public to the world of Geoparks.

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