When the repurposed and expanded museum run by the Lake County Forest Preserve District reopens later this year, visitors will be greeted by a full-scale model dinosaur whose name means "tearing lizard."
"It's not uncommon in any of our educational programs to have something that will grab attention," says Nan Buckardt, the district's director of education.
And given that a fabricated Dryptosaurus head was a hit during the museum's 2009 Prehistoric Lake County exhibit, the decision to add a full-size model was easy.
"Who doesn't love a good dinosaur?" Buckardt noted.
This one stands about 6 feet high at the shoulder and is about 20 feet or more from nose to tail. A carnivore, Dryptosaurus ate plant-eating dinosaurs and was known as a "tearing lizard" because it had 8-inch-long claws.
"I'm seeing gift shop sales," forest board President Ann Maine joked Thursday during a brief discussion of the plan.
The next step in creating this wow factor will come Tuesday, when the forest board is expected to approve a $70,000 contract with Paleo-artist Tyler Keillor to fabricate and install a life-size model of a dinosaur thought to have lived in Lake County millions of years ago.
Keillor, a Brookfield resident who has worked with the University of Chicago and the Field Museum, created the Dryptosaurus head that fronted one of the most successful offerings at the former Lake County Discovery Museum at the Lakewood Forest Preserve.
"It was one of the more popular exhibitions we've had in the last decade," said Andrew Osborne, superintendent of educational facilities. "People love dinosaurs, and they associate dinosaurs with museums."
Wanting to do something different for the 2009 exhibition, scientists consulted by the district suggested Dryptosaurus.
"We don't know for certain because there's no fossil evidence. It was in the region surrounding us, so it likely was in Lake County," Buckardt said.
The idea is for people in Lake County to identify with the Dryptosaurus, according to Osborne.
"You need something people see when they walk in the door and say, 'Wow, I want to go there,'" he said.
And while displays of other dinosaur species are widely known at various locales, none have been made of the Dryptosaurus.
"We feel strongly this will be a contribution to science because it's never been done before," Osborne said.
"It will be uniquely ours," added Buckardt. "It will be a great contribution to science so people can learn about it."
Work is progressing on several fronts for what will be known as the "Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County" when it reopens at the end of the year at the district's general office in Libertyville.
Exhibits will be presented in chronological order, with Dryptosaurus anchoring the Ancient Seas and Frozen Lands section.