Discovered in 2014 by a paleontological team lead by Dr. Steve Nicklas, a professor at the University of North Georgia-Gainesville, the 66 million year on Hadrosaur was installed several days before Christmas in the new Isaac Dickson Elementary School in Asheville, North Carolina. In describing the very unique aspect of the dinosaur installation, Dr. Nicklas stated that he believes that “this is the only example of an articulated dinosaur skeleton on display in an elementary school in North America if not the World. It represents an amazing opportunity for the students, especially because mounted specimens currently on display in our country’s major museums are almost all replicas made totally from resin cast copies.”

Steve Nicklas is the brother of Mike Nicklas who is president of the architectural firm, Innovative Design. Innovative Design, in conjunction with Legerton Architecture, designed the new 75,000 square foot K-5 elementary school that features numerous sustainable design features including natural daylighting in all the school’s main occupied spaces, rainwater harvesting, geothermal heating and cooling, a community garden, a greenhouse, and numerous outdoor experiential learning centers. The school has been designed to LEED Platinum environmental standards and Asheville City Schools is in the final stages of negotiating with Asheville’s Sundance Solar to implement a 600KW photovoltaic system that, if completed as planned, will be the State’s first net-zero energy, LEED Platinum elementary school.

While the school is still several months from opening, the students will soon be welcomed to their new school by the dinosaur that is mounted on the school’s main lobby wall and stands 28 feet long and 10 feet high. Architect, Mike Nicklas stated that “the dinosaur was donated to the school in an effort to raise attention to the impact that abnormally rapid changes in Earth’s atmospheric conditions can have on the inhabitants of the Earth.”

“What an amazing gift to our school community” stated Asheville City Schools Superintendent, Dr. Pamela Baldwin. “Our young students can calculate the time of day on the new sundial just outside the school’s entry, then walk only a few steps to travel 66 million years back in time. They can learn and grow in a ‘green’ school that features numerous sustainability elements while observing a relic from a time long ago that was not, as we they will learn, sustainable.”

The genus type of Hadrosaur that was discovered in South Dakota and then carefully excavated and prepared by Dr. Nicklas and his colleagues over the past two years is called Edmontosaurus. The Edmontosaurus lived alongside dinosaurs like Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus shortly before the Cretaceous-Paleogene catastrophic extinction event that changed the atmosphere of the Earth sixty-six million years ago and effectively made it impossible for plants to carry out photosynthesis. The Edmontosaurus roamed the Earth at the end of the Maastrichtian stage of the Cretaceous Period and was one of the last non-avian dinosaurs.