Replica of largest dinosaur ever discovered comes to Savannah

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — As the development of the Plant Riverside District continues, construction workers and a Montana paleontologist are putting together what’s likely the most unique aspect of the project.

At the center of the generator hall and lobby of the original 1912 Georgia Power Plant building will stand the only existing replica of the largest dinosaur ever discovered on the planet.

The 135-feet-tall Amphicoelias fragillimus dinosaur recreation will consist of 230 bones dipped in chrome.

The dinosaur will be animated, and its neck will move a total of 12 feet up and down. 

Building the massive replica has taken three years, and the project is headed by paleontologist Dave Trexler.

Trexler tells News 3 that he and his team have constructed dinosaurs for museums all over the world, with the true-to-life “Savannah-saurus” being the third large dinosaur they’ve replicated.

“The bones that we reconstructed were initially hand-carved out of a substance called polyisocyanurate,” Trexler explained.

“It’s the only flame-retardant carving foam that’s available out there, and since we didn’t want to have a chance of this going up in flames, it started out as that, and then it was coated with a hard coat, and then textured and chrome dipped,” he said.

He added that the chrome integrates the dinosaur bones with the rest of the building’s theme.

The Amphicoelias fragillimus was first discovered in 1878, according to Trexler, and only a single bone of the dinosaur was discovered at that time.

“However, the bone closely matched to some others that were from more complete skeletons,” he said.

The dinosaur replica will fit in with the theme of the natural science exhibit envisioned by Savannah-born art collector and hotelier Richard Kessler. 

“We’re going to tell the story of power and where it comes from, and therefore, that led us into the whole idea that we should do a natural science museum,” Kessler told News 3, adding that in addition to the massive dinosaur, the exhibit will include other types of fossils, minerals and other dinosaur replicas.

While the Amphicoelias fragillimus wasn’t specifically known to be native to the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry, experts say dinosaurs similar to it did likely roam the Georgia Coast during the Jurassic period.

The Plant Riverside District entertainment complex is scheduled for a grand opening sometime in either March or April, according to Kessler. 

Plant Riverside District plans to hold a naming contest for the dinosaur in the coming months.

“This [dinosaur] is obviously designed as an initial wow factor, but what I’m hoping is it will spark a little bit of interest and help visitors think about some of the other displays we’ll have, and maybe get a better idea of what is really going on with natural processes and events,” Trexler said.

“Paleontology really is the study of the past,” Trexler added. “But the purpose of studying the past is to better understand what’s going on in the present and better predict the future, so hopefully, what we’re doing here will spark that sort of interest.”

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