Forget Jurassic Park. Appalachian State University will soon have its own Triassic Park – complete with its very own dinosaur-like creature.

In truth, the “park” will be a reconstructed aetosaur habitat in the Fred Webb Jr. Outdoor Geology Laboratory/Interactive Rock Garden that runs along Rankin Science South. The garden will be home to a cast bronze replica of Gorgetosuchus pekinensis, a Maurice Sendak-like reptile that roamed the Upper Triassic Pekin Formation, Deep River Basin, North Carolina, 230 million years ago.

Why Gorgetosuchus? And, why here? This aetosaur, an armored reptile related to but more primitive than crocodiles, was identified in 2015 based on 10 rows of bony plates called osteoderms, representing the front part of an armored shield that would have covered the back of the animal. The plates were found embedded in sandstone and conglomerate boulders near a brick quarry in Chatham County, North Carolina. Appalachian Professor of Geology Andy Heckert was leader for the research team that named Gorgetosuchus, hence the Appalachian connection.

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Original story by By Elisabeth Wall and published on March 10, 2017.