New Mexico is dinosaur country, and residents can get unprecedented views into that legacy as part of a special centennial celebration exhibit that continues until the end of the year at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Old Town.
Called “Dinosaur Century: 100 Years of Discovery in New Mexico,” the exhibit describes the state’s role in some of the most significant findings of dinosaur fossils.
New Mexico’s fossil finds have advanced dinosaur knowledge all over the world, answering questions about origins, lives and causes of extinction.
“In fact, many fossils of New Mexico dinosaurs are in the collections of museums like the Smithsonian Institution, New York’s American Museum of Natural History, and Chicago’s Field Museum,” said Alicia Borrego Pierce, deputy director of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.
Until year’s end, a new specimen will be added to the exhibit, a specimen previously seen by only research scientists, Pierce said.
The exhibits explain how the finding of the fossils advanced and expanded knowledge about dinosaurs.
Back in the day – way back, like in the Jurassic period, or about 200 million years ago – New Mexico was a prehistoric badlands where dinosaurs went to die. Scientists say New Mexico’s dry climate and numerous rock formations protected and preserved the fossils.
However, it wasn’t until the relatively recent 1880s that the first dinosaur fossils were found in the state.
The discoveries grew to a trickle, then to a flood of fossils that have helped scientists learn how dinosaurs emerged, evolved and then went extinct.
Fossils from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods have unearthed timeless secrets about dinosaurs, reflecting a remarkable time in what is now New Mexico.
The first star in the museum’s revolving exhibit was Coelophysis, a theropod perhaps not as famous as Tyrannosaurus rex, but just as significant, particularly because it was found by famed fossil hunter Edward Drinker Cope in New Mexico, Pierce said.
Also featured was Parasaurolophus, first found in Alberta, Canada, in 1920 and known as the “trumpeting” dinosaur. Its fossil remains a year later were also found in New Mexico. It lived during the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era.
— This article appeared on page 1 of the West Side Journal