Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Dem Dry Dino Bones

Wanna’ feel like a kid again? Hustle over to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Greeting you as you enter the lobby, Stan, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, assumes a threatening pose. After your first introduction to ancient bones, start your “walk through time,” by hastening up to the second floor where you begin with “Origins,” an introduction into the beginnings of life on earth. All fossils and artifacts were discovered in New Mexico.

From single-celled organisms to the age of super giants, the Jurassic, it’s an experience in awe and wonder. You progress through the dawn of time when New Mexico actually had a seacoast, to the explosive Age of Volcanos, the evolving Grasslands, the Pleistocene represented by a cave mock-up, and the Ice Age.

In the new Triassic exhibit you view the battle between the crocodile-like Phytosaur and the armored Placerias. If this doesn’t give you the shivers, nothing will. A two-ton piece of rock from the Ghost Ranch near Abiquiq illustrates how pile on pile of fossilized bone can present paleontologists with a merry puzzle.

From the Dawn of the Dinosaurs, the Triassic, you progress into the Age of the Super Giants, the Jurassic. It’s impossible to describe the feeling of puniness standing next to the immense plant-eating Seimosaurus, locked in battle with the meat-eating Saurophaganax (see photo). The big lizard’s name means “earthquake lizard,” and it’s 110 feet long from snout to tip of tail. It weighed about 30 tons.

Your next stop is the Extinction Room which illustrates in sound and light the devastation caused by the huge meteor which is believed to have finished off the big boys in the preceding exhibit.

After completing up your explorations, you can attend a show at the Planetarium or visit the Lockheed Martin Dynatheater presentations of “Dinosaurs Alive!” and “The Living Sea.” Check out the interactive Nature Center, or pick up a souvenir at the Nature Works store. The museum’s M Café is a great place to stop for a snack or a meal. I’d especially recommend their green chile stew.

New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, 1801 Mountain Road NW (Old Town), Albuquerque. 505-841-2800. Daily, 9 AM to 5 PM.

1 comment:

  1. What tune comes to mind when you think about dinosaur bones?