Arts & Entertainment

Theme park in southeastern Mexico reveals Jurassic past

By Martha Lopez Huan

Merida, Mexico, Jun 1 (EFE).- Tyranosaurus rex, velociraptor, brachiosaurus and diplodocus are some of the dinosaur species that went extinct 66 million years ago but replicas of which are “alive” at Sendero Jurasico, a theme park locted between Progreso and Chicxulub, ports in the southeastern Mexican state of Yucatan.

“The aim is for visitors to better get to know the different species of dinosaurs that inhabited the planet before the meteor that fell right on Chicxulub, Mexico, made them extinct,” paleoclimatologist Ligia Perez Cruz, a researcher with the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), told EFE on Wednesday.

She is part of the team studying the geological characteristics of the Chicxulub crater, that is, rocks and sediments that provide geochemical evidence and microfossils.

This is how they are learning about ancient life and ecosystems, along with climate changes in certain periods, mainly just before and after the meteor struck what is now the Yucatan Peninsula.

The park, which was officially opened on Monday evening, albeit behind closed doors, still has not set a date for its opening to the public because the Yucatan state legislature must approve the entry fee, but it is already available for private tours for school groups, for instance.

The Sendero Jurasico project, one of the most ambitious to be undertaken by the municipality of Progreso, “is very attractive because people will enjoy multisensory experiences with some species of dinosaurs that lived in the planet,” UNAM expert Jaime Humberto Urrutia Fucugauchi told EFE.

A member of the Yucatan Research and Innovation Secretariat’s Chicxulub Advanced Studies Research Institute, he explained the relationship of the park and the Geology Museum that will open in the coming days on Progreso’s international oceanside boulevard.

There, Mexican and foreign visitors will be able to learn more about dinosaurs, the effect of the Chicxulub impact on the study of Earth and what it means for the evolution of life on the planet.

Progreso Mayor Julian Zacarias said that Sendero Jurasico is not just another theme park.

“(It’s) a sea of knowledge and science, because from here, which is the geographic center of the crater, and with the collaboration of 24 people, whom we have called ‘Jurassic Friends,’ we will tell the world the story that changed the course of the planet.”

He told EFE that the park was created with the support of providers of tourist services, restauranteurs and hotel owners to take advantage of the Jurassic story that can be told from the site of the meteor strike “because the Chicxulub crater is right here … and it changed the life of the world forever.”

In addition, he said that the park will enhance the economic dynamism of the port of Chicxulub and noted that Sendero Jurasico had the support of UNAM scientists who worked with a group of students at Mexico’s National Technical Instituto, the Campus Progreso and the Anahuac Mayab University “We’re trying to have tourists not only have the experience of being with the dinosaurs but also getting full knowledge of their life and extinction, and so we’ll also open the Geological Museum that will … (be) top quality,” he said.

The staff will wear uniforms similar to those of the researcher characters in the “Jurassic Park” films, but the park will also transport visitors into the world of animated cartoons like “The Flintstones.”

“Being here is like living in the past, in the Mesozoic Era,” said students from the two institutes that are participating in the park via new technologies.

The young people created a plan whereby visitors interact with and learn more about the carnivorous and plant-eating species that lived on Earth from 250 million to 66 million years ago.

EFE mlh/jmrg/rrt/bp

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