Manitoba·Photos

50-foot-long replica of Bruce the mosasaur coming to Morden

The bones from a massive 80-million-year-old marine reptile unearthed on the Prairies inspired a Manitoba museum to commission a life-sized replica of the former aquatic beast.

'There's nothing like this in the world,' director of Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre says

This mosasaur model will be erected at a site in Morden, Man., at the end of July. (Dinosaur Valley Studios)

The bones from a massive 80-million-year-old marine reptile unearthed in Manitoba have been brought back to life ... sort of.

The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden, Man., has commissioned a life-sized replica of Bruce the mosasaur, a creature that was dug up in a quintessential Prairie pasture near the southwest Manitoba city in the 1970s.

Mosasaurs like Bruce, and his companion at the museum named Suzy, used to cruise the shallows in search of prey during the Cretaceous period. Their fossils have been found as far afield as the Netherlands, New Zealand, Japan, Syria and across North America.
Bruce the mosasaur was found in Thornhill, just outside Morden, Man., in a farmer's field in 1974. The now-extinct sea reptile is on display in Manitoba and considered the largest in the world. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

No one was supposed to know about the sculpture until it went on display to the public in Morden at the end of July, but keeping a 15-metre-long sculpture of an ancient predator under wraps proved difficult.

The sculpture is on its way toward Manitoba and has turned some heads on the highway.

"I guess we failed and were a little naive in thinking that a 50-foot-long mosasaur would not be spotted driving across the Prairies," said Peter Cantelon, executive director of the museum. "As soon as it hit the road it hit the news."
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      Dinosaur Valley Studios in Drumheller, Alta., built the display over the past eight or nine months. It didn't come cheap, and while Cantelon was tight-lipped about the price tag, he said the project is the most costly exhibit or display the museum has ever taken on. It was made possible thanks to generous donations from stakeholders.

      While the museum does a fairly good job of attracting people to its fossil displays in Morden, about 103 kilometres from Winnipeg, Cantelon said he hopes the giant toothy blue specimen will help draw even bigger crowds.

      "One of the things we've struggled with is our facility is a fairly invisible facility.... It's underground; you don't really see us until you're inside," he said, adding dinosaur fans aren't going to want to miss the new Bruce.

      "Not only in Manitoba or Canada; there's nothing like this in the world."

      The sculpture hasn't arrived yet. Once it does, Cantelon said the museum will be hiding it away until its big debut at the end of July. So if you're passing through the Prairies over the next while and see a Bruce-like aberration on the horizon barrelling your way, no need to be alarmed.
      One of the design creators with Dinosaur Valley Studios paints part of the jaw of the Bruce sculpture. (Dinosaur Valley Studios)

      "No one is going to see this and say, 'Meh, that's boring.' This is, I think, probably is the most interesting, exciting, huge sculpture that will exist in Manitoba," Cantelon said.

      "That's a bit of a challenge with respect to all of our friends out there: the Gimli Viking, the Happy Rock, and of course [Sara] the Camel and others. All of them are amazing, but I think we've created the best one."