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New Mexico and Texas Recollections

I've just returned from my two week trip to New Mexico and Texas, and just now 
am able to get back onto the DML.  Sadly, my server erased all messages sent 
after July 31...  

Anyway, while I was gone I was able to visit three excellent museums, the 
Dallas Museum of Natural History, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, 
and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.  

The Dallas Museum is a very nice facility.  Its dinosaur and fossil display is 
amazing, with a nice Acrocanthosaurus cast greeting visitors to the dinosaur 
hall.  There is also a beautiful Tyrannosaurus.  Other than dinosaurs, there is 
a nice Dimetrodon and a beautiful mosasaur found near Dallas.  However, my 
favorites were the brachiopods and ammonites, which came from local 
Pennsylvanian and Cretaceous strata respectively.  The ammonites are found near 
Dallas Fort Worth Airport, which, perhaps, is the best fossil site in the 
entire state!  Louis Jacobs published a very short book (meant for children) on 
the fossils of the airport.  The airport lies right on the strip of land that 
was once the border of the Western Interior Seaway, so nice marine and 
terrestrial fossils are preserved.  They are definitely worth seeing!

The Fort Worth Museum is a more interactive, hands-on museum for children.  
However, the Lone Star Dinosaurs exhibit is amazing, with a plethora of 
Pleurocoelus remains on display.  There is also a nice Heterodontosaurus, a 
cast skull of Pawpawsaurus, and a lot of other interesting dinosaur material.  

The New Mexico Museum was, in my opinion, the best of the three.  The facility 
is very modern, and the displays are beautiful.  There are nice casts of 
Camarasaurus, Stegosaurus, and Allosaurus, plus the original fossil remains of 
several other dinosaurs.  A highlight is the reconstruction of a Cretaceous 
seashore.  Displayed near the exhibit is a beautiful jaw of Tyrannosaurus found 
near Elephant Butte Resevoir.  There are also some great mammal remains, some 
amazing Permian, Cretaceous, and Tertiary trackways, an abundance of fine art 
and models, and a great display of some of earth's earliest lifeforms.  I also 
liked how the museum focused on life in the various seas and lakes that once 
covered the state, not only the terrestrial fauna.  There are some very nice 
brachs, sharks, and bony fish on display.  It is a world class 
institution...one of my favorites.  

I also made a steal when I came across a nice antique book booth in an antique 
mall in Fort Worth.  I found some great old manuscripts dealing with Rancho 
LaBrea, the Permian Glass Mountains of Texas, and the Silica Formation in 
Michigan.  Along with some other old paleo books and papers, I paid under $10 
for a wealth of information.  I felt like a common theft coming out of there, 
but I didn't care :-)

There were also a few paleo displays at Carlsbad Caverns.  The caverns were 
formed when a sea covered much of New Mexico during the Permian, about 290 mya. 
 A large reef existed in this sea, but over time was covered by sediment.  As 
more sediment was piled on top of the ancient reef, much of the reef sank and 
became eroded by groundwater.  The result is the magnificent set of caves-the 
most spectacular in the world in my opinion.  

I was also pleasantly surprised when I returned home earlier today.  Waiting 
for me were two great books: Mesozoic Vertebrate Life and HP Darren Naish's 
wonderful Isle of Wight book.  I can't wait to dig into these...

Anyway, I look forward to returning to discuss dinosaur matters on this list!


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