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

 

”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

Grassfire threatens Sooke home

Quick action by local firefighters quickly extinguished flames

Sunny skies ahead for Tuesday

Plus a look ahead at your week

Langford veteran rehab program takes multi-tiered approach to treating pain

Clinic ‘bio-psycho-social approach to healing’ from Victoria to the West Shore earlier this year

Victoria book store begins challenge of moving 500,000 books

Russell Books is moving across the street from its long time Fort Street location

Sooke’s Old-Fashioned Country Picnic set for Saturday

The free event combines music, kids activities, food and fun

B.C. seizes 1.5M grams contraband tobacco, down from 5.75M grams the year prior

The 2019-2020 seizures were a sharp drop compared to the 2018-2019 year,

B.C. Speaker tight-lipped about aide’s legislature security tour

B.C. Liberals question Alan Mullen’s drive across Canada, U.S.

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Most Read