Ry Williams extracts dinosaur fossils at Victoria’s Dino Lab. He also works as a welder to help build displays for the fossils. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

New, hands-on dinosaur lab opens in Victoria

Dino Lab Inc. offers a museum and education centre where participants can extract real fossils

There’s a lady in town many people will want to meet; standing at 20 feet tall, Victoria has a toothy grin to remember for ages – 65 million years to be exact.

Victoria is a Tyrannosaurus Rex, or the fossilized remains of one anyway, and she’s one of the main features at Dino Lab Inc., located at 1B-491 Dupplin Rd.

“She’s the third-largest that’s ever been discovered,” said Carly Burbank, creative director at Dino Lab. “A lot of people don’t even think she’s real, but she is.”

Many of Victoria’s bones have been subtly embedded with magnets, so visitors can pluck out a rib and take a close-up look.

ALSO READ: Buy your own dinosaur fossil for as low as $7

“There’s very few things that people shouldn’t be allowed to touch, because it’s rock,” Burbank said. “It’s part of our natural history, it’s everybody’s and it shouldn’t be eroding or having buildings developed on top of it or sitting in archives where no one ever gets a chance to see it in their lifetime.”

Burbank and her husband, Terry Ciotka have been working with fossils for decades, originally as fossil wholesalers and gradually shifting to fossil restoration experts. Pieces extracted and preserved by their teams have been featured in museums across the world, including in Canada’s famed Royal Tyrrell Museum.

The Dino Lab has been in operation for three years as a private restorative lab, working on extracting and preserving prehistoric fossils of dinosaurs, mammoths, ammonites and more, but as of July 9 opened its doors to the public. Now, Dino Lab runs as a three-part business: a working prep lab, an educational destination and a gift shop filled with unique specimens and minerals.

Burbank said the idea to open up a museum and hands-on education centre came after their children’s school teachers became interested in their work.

“As soon as they found out what we did they asked if we could present to the class,” Burbank said. “It just kept going from there.”

Burbank and Ciotka set up pop-up shops early on, which included the opportunity to allow people to extract real fossils from rock using hand-held drills, similar to dentistry tools.

VIDEO: Victoria airport guests see T-Rex surprise

“People would come in and say ‘oh my kid loves dinosaurs’ and then they’d shove the kids to the side and they’re working on it instead,” she said with a laugh.

Now, anyone who books one of Dino Lab’s 90-minute tours willget a guided tour of the museum and 30-minutes of hands-on work helping to extract real dinosaur fossils in a specialized lab.

The fossils are usually fragments from more common dinosaurs, Burbank explained, but they’re real parts of history.

The Dino Lab also does kids birthday parties, and helps arrange trips for private fossil digs around the world.

For anyone staying local it may be good to know that Victoria the T-Rex will soon be heading out for a museum tour of her own. Something new is planned to take her place at Dino Lab, and while Burbank couldn’t share exact details, she promised it was going to be big.

For more information you can visit dinolabinc.ca.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Activities

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

”Victoria” is a Tyrannosaurus Rex who’s been restored at Victoria’s Dino Lab. She’ll soon be heading on a world tour. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Just Posted

Mental Health: Stigma leads to a life on the streets

People with severe mental illness disproportionately impacted by homelessness

Financial relief for Victoria residents includes no 2020 property tax increase

‘Significant and long-awaited decisions’ made by council, mayor says

COVID-19: Immigrants face language, financial barriers during crisis

Citizenship events halted, permanent residency applications still being processed

Victoria police safely recover items stolen from Sikh temple

A man broke into the Khalsa Diwan Society Victoria and stole religious and ceremonial items

Victoria police seek information on nine suspicious fires

The fires took place between March 5 and April 9 across Victoria and Esquimalt

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

VIDEO: Community rallies around Campbell River fire victims

Emergency Social Services volunteers logged over 100 hours in first day after fire

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

Reality TV show about bodybuilders still filming in Okanagan, amid COVID-19

Five bodybuilders from across the country flew to Kelowna to move into a house for a reality TV show

B.C.’s top doctor details prescription for safe long weekend

Yes, it includes hosting an online cooking show

BC SPCA seeks help for abandoned German shepherd puppies

Donations have ‘petered out’ as doors are closed due to COVID-19

Most Read