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Article posted: 2/10/2013 8:00 AM

"SuperCrocs" coming to Elgin library

By Elena Ferrarin

An exhibit featuring 40-foot crocodiles that lived 110 million years ago is headed to the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin this May.

The so-called "SuperCroc" exhibit is part of Project Exploration, based in Chicago, whose co-founder Paul Sereno discovered the skull of a Sarcosuchus imperator -- or "flesh crocodile emperor" -- in a 2000 expedition to Niger, Africa. Sereno, a Naperville native, is a professor at the University of Chicago and a National Geographic explorer-in-residence.

The Grand Victoria Foundation gave the library a $25,000 grant and another $25,000 challenge grant for the exhibit, said Denise Raleigh, the library's public relations and development division chief. The library is seeking $25,000 in matching donations.

Project Exploration also brought to Gail Borden the "Giants: African Dinosaurs" exhibit in 2005, which drew more than 300,000 people, Raleigh said.

"It was tremendously successful. The idea was to engage the community in projects that are bigger than the library alone," she said.

Carl Gustafson, director of operations for Project Exploration, said Elgin will be the 12th location for the SuperCroc exhibit since it launched in 2002.

The exhibit has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people in such places as Chicago, Cincinnati, El Paso and the Netherlands.

In Elgin, the exhibit will feature two huge installations -- a skeleton replica measuring about 40 feet including a curving tail, and a slightly bigger flesh-like replica of the animal, Gustafson said.

The real fossil skull of the croc found in Niger will be displayed, too, along with smaller fossils, he said.

Project Exploration is a nonprofit organization whose main focus are youth programs that allow students to interact with scientists. The exhibit is part of the organization's public program.

Former Elgin Mayor Ed Schock, whose wife Karen volunteers at the library, is among those eager to check out the upcoming SuperCroc exhibit. The 2005 dino exhibit was very successful, he said.

Natural science exhibits teach children facts, rather than fiction they learn through cartoons and movies, he said.

"I think it's another tremendous opportunity for people to learn and get real understanding of natural history."

The library is seeking volunteers and funding for the exhibit. For more information contact Denise Raleigh at (847) 429-5981 or draleigh@gailborden.info.

Croc: Library is seeking volunteers, funding for the exhibit

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