DINO-mad movie lovers are descending on cinemas to see the new Jurassic World film – but fossil fans can take a giant step back in time and explore Leeds’s very own prehistoric lost world.
Curators at the Leeds Museums Discovery Centre are expecting interest in their extensive collection of bones and fossils to be higher than ever thanks to the latest Hollywood blockbuster.
The centre’s catalogue features vertebra from giant herbivore Iguanadon plus marine reptile fossils such as Ichthyosaur skulls and the headless skeleton of a long-necked Plesiosaur.
Over at Leeds City Museum, visitors can also catch a glimpse of the egg of 27-foot-long sauropod Hypselosaurus.
Neil Owen, assistant curator for natural science and geology at the Discovery Centre, said: “Dinosaurs are timeless. There’s always interest in them but when they feature in a blockbuster film, it does help open them up to a new audience who might not usually go to a museum and that can only be a good thing.”
The state-of-the-art Discovery Centre is home to over one million unusual items including elephant skulls, a medieval log boat, mummy bandages and meteorites, and stores the city’s collections when they aren’t on display at other sites in Leeds.
Mr Owen added: “A lot of our collection has been here in Leeds since around 1849.
“With many of the fossils being smaller parts of a much larger creature, it takes a bit of a leap of faith and some imagination to picture the animals. But we have a number of examples which we use for handling, and it’s then you realise this 10cm piece you’re holding is a part of what was once a 12ft tail.”
Councillor Brain Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member with responsibility for culture, said: “The Leeds Museum’s Discovery Centre is one of the city’s hidden gems and offers a fascinating insight into hundreds of millions of years of world history.”
The centre is open by appointment only.
For details or to book, visit www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/discoverycentre.