A symphony of duckbills from the San Juan Basin
Albuquerque, NM, November 8, 2012 – When most people think of a symphony, they think of a very elaborate musical composition. Scholars can date the origins of a symphony to earlier than the 16th Century. Though, even longer than that – say about 70 million years ago - there lived a group of dinosaurs, in Northwestern New Mexico, that created a symphony of their own.
About 70 million years ago, herds of duckbilled dinosaurs, also known as hadrosaurs, browsed across the floodplains and seashores of New Mexico. They were one of the last great groups of plant-eating dinosaurs. These dinosaurs had a bony crest that adorned the tops of their heads, leading many researchers to realize that these creatures had the ability to make loud noises; hence creating a symphony with each other.
Dinosaur Crests opens on November 17, 2012 as part of Dinosaur Century: 100 Years of Discovery in New Mexico at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.
Anasazisaurus and Parasaurolophus are two of the duckbilled dinosaurs that will debut as part of this exhibit.
A Yale University paleontologist named John Ostrom is best known for convincing most paleontologists that dinosaurs are the ancestors of birds. As a young graduate student, he was studying hadrosaurs for his dissertation. While rummaging through a fossil collection at the Field Museum in Chicago, he made an astonishing discovery. He realized that what he found was a new kind of New Mexico dinosaur. Ostrom closely examined a hadrosaur skeleton from the San Juan Basin that Charles Sternberg had collected in 1923. He identified the skeleton as a new species of hadrosaur that he named Parasaurolophus cyrtocristatus.
Fifty-Four years later, in 1977, a recent graduate of the University of New Mexico, Spencer Lucas, discovered the skull of another type of hadrosaur in the Upper Cretaceous badlands in the San Juan Basin. Lucas was working as part of a survey team documenting fossil localities in the San Juan Basin for the U. S. Bureau of Land Management. Thus, the locality was recorded but not collected until 1979, when a team of paleontologists from Brigham Young University in Utah collected several of the localities found by the 1977 survey. The skull, encased in a plaster jacket, thus made its way to the Brigham Young University collection in Provo, Utah.
In 1993, Lucas, now a curator at the NM Museum of Natural History & Science, and then University of New Mexico graduate student Adrian Hunt, studied the skull in Provo. They decided it was a new kind of hadrosaur that they named Anasazisaurus horneri.
A cast of the skull of Anasazisaurus will be on display as part of the Dinosaur Century exhibit.
Come see it all at Dinosaur Century: 100 Years of Discovery in New Mexico, only at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science.
The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science preserves and interprets the distinctive natural and scientific heritage of our state through extraordinary collections, research, exhibits and programs designed to ignite a passion for lifelong learning.