OGDEN — A pair of giant critters will be lumbering to Ogden — a Utahraptor and a Tanystropheus.
But no, it's not a case of a Jurassic Park-style experiment gone awry.
The two prehistoric creatures — models of them, anyway — are slated to become the latest additions to Ogden's George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park, per a $160,000 renovation plan at the facility. What's more, six other models already at the park, including the giant Brachiosaurus and the existing Utahraptor, are to get repair and rehab work.
Every year, museum officials try to make some sort of major upgrade or addition, and the new dinosaurs and other changes are the latest effort, said Casey Allen, the museum director. Also included in the $160,000 price tag is a special $60,000 router enabling museum officials to make their own dinosaurs, including the two planned additions.
New dinosaurs are "always a big hit. It gets a lot of people coming," Allen said. The two additions should be completed by early 2020 and have a tentative unveiling date of around March next year.
The last new dinosaur at the park was a $200,000 Spinosaurus, added in 2017. The most recent addition before that came about 10 years earlier.
Museum officials decided on a Utahraptor — the Utah state dinosaur — to underscore recent findings that shed new light on what the creature actually looked like. It had feathers, the latest research shows, and maintained a stance resembling that of a chicken.
The new Utahraptor will be smaller than the model already at the museum — about seven and a half feet tall, also reflecting new findings — and be placed next to the original. Paleontology, Allen said, is a "living science," evolving with new fossil discoveries, and the juxtaposition of the new and old models will serve as a means to illustrate that point to visitors.
The Tanystropheus, a reptile, was a peculiar creature that scientists are still trying to understand. It's to be placed adjacent to a park section abutting the Ogden River.
"It's one of the biggest dinosaur puzzles at this point. It's an absolutely interesting animal," Allen said. "The shape of it is just unique and we don't know a lot about it."
It measured about 20-feet long and had an elongated neck, according to dinosaur park literature on the creature. A report in the Scientific American said the long neck may have enabled the creature to stand on shorelines and dip its head into water to catch fish to eat. "What else could such a ridiculous neck be for?" the publication wonders.
As for the upgrades, the existing Brachiosaurus model is to get a re-sculpted skull, reflecting new discoveries about the creature. The existing Utahraptor and the Hesperornis, Tortoise, Scutellosaurus and Marshosaurus models are also getting repair work and fresh coats of paint.
The planned changes per the plans also include improvements to the park's trail system.
Of the $160,000 needed for the planned improvements, $60,000 will come from the special 0.1% Weber County sales tax earmarked for recreational projects, the RAMP tax. The Eccles Foundation will provide another $60,000, with more coming from other grants.
Weber County commissioners approved RAMP tax funding for the dinosaur museum and numerous other projects around the county last month.