Museum Commemorates State’s Centennial with Dinosaur Century Exhibit

For Immediate Release
Contact Alicia Borrego Pierce 505-841-2856

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – February 17, 2012 – The New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science has a plethora of fossil and bone collections documenting the geology, flora and fauna of the State.  Never before has this collection been curated to fully illustrate the stories behind the excavations chronicling the development of the collections.  The Museum has created a special centennial exhibit, Dinosaur Century: 100 Years of Discovery in New Mexico, which opened to the public in January.  The exhibit will “grow” each month to highlight the discoveries made in the State over the last one hundred years. 

January’s feature is centered on the official New Mexico state fossil, Coelophysis.  February’s feature opens on February 18 with New Mexico’s version of Jurassic Park and a salute to Rod Peterson who unearthed Jurassic dinosaur bones in 1953.

New Mexico’s Jurassic Park
Some of the most famous dinosaurs, including Allosaurus, “Brontosaurus” and Stegosaurus, come from the great Jurassic bonebeds of the western United States, such as Como Bluff in Wyoming and Dinosaur National Monument in Utah. New Mexico’s great Jurassic dinosaur bonebed is the Peterson quarry west of Albuquerque, discovered by Museum volunteer Rod Peterson and worked on for decades by Museum volunteers.

1989---The Peterson Quarry is Opened
In 1953, Rod Peterson was prospecting for uranium west of Albuquerque when he found huge Jurassic dinosaur bones in an arroyo bank. Decades later, in 1989, New Mexico Museum of Natural History paleontology curator Spencer Lucas worked with Rod and his son Ron to open a dinosaur quarry long referred to as the Peterson quarry, after its discoverer.

Today, more than 20 years later, the Peterson quarry remains an ongoing excavation manned by volunteers from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. The volunteers have devoted thousands of hours to uncovering numerous bones of sauropod dinosaurs, many of which belong to Diplodocus. They also excavated part of the skeleton of the large meat-eating dinosaur Saurophaganax, which has been on display at the Museum since 2004.
Rodney E. Peterson (1928- )Born in Wisconsin, Rodney (“Rod”) Peterson was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, and studied engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. He worked for various engineering firms over a long and diverse career. In 1953, while prospecting for uranium west of Albuquerque, Rod Peterson discovered a Jurassic dinosaur bone bed. Now known as the Peterson quarry, volunteers from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science have been excavating the site since the late 1980s.
          The mission of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science is to foster an understanding and appreciation of the diverse natural history and physical sciences of New Mexico and the Southwest for the benefit of residents of, and visitors to, New Mexico. The Museum provides educational experiences and promotes scientific inquiry through focused collections, research, public programs and exhibitions.  The Museum is a division of the State of New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.  The Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums.