Back by popular demand, a grand display of assorted fossils and casts from the Sincak Natural History Collection at Mercyhurst College will officially open Wednesday, April 13, at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle State Park.
Curator Scott McKenzie said the new “Fossils!” exhibit will feature a colossal bear skeleton, which he described as the largest land carnivore since the dinosaur. Another new addition to the collection is a giant sloth, a freestanding skeleton the size of a bull, McKenzie said. And, an old favorite – the JAWS! of an extinct relative of the Great White Shark – will be front and center.
While these large specimens never cease to deliver the wow factor, other less sizeable items have their own special appeal. “We’ll have lots of real fossils from this area, from horseshoe crabs to starfish, and those should hold interest for people as well,” McKenzie said.
Some of the fossils are borrowed from private collections. The casts, and most other pieces in Mercyhurst's collection, are provided by Michael and Barbara Sincak, who have spent nearly 20 years traveling the globe to acquire specimens for their business and personal collections. The Sincaks own and operate Treasures of the Earth Ltd., near Johnstown, Pa.
The collection is maintained at Mercyhurst College and, until two years ago, had been exhibited annually at the college’s Cummings Art Gallery. With the growth and popularity of the exhibit, Mercyhurst has collaborated with TREC to provide the public a truly unprecedented experience on a grand scale.
In addition, McKenzie said the college’s first remote exhibit, which began Jan. 22 and continues until early April at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, N.Y., has been hugely successful. The exhibit features pieces already displayed in Erie, including life-size casts of Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops skulls, a fossilized nest of dinosaur eggs, a Silurian sea scorpion and giant Ice Age beaver.
As in recent years, the exhibit at TREC is free and open to all. It is available for viewing during TREC’s regular business hours, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, through September. For more information about the exhibit, call McKenzie at 824-2382; or regarding viewing hours and related activities, call TREC at 833-7424.