Digging Up the Past in Tucumcari, New Mexico

Posted on October 19, 2014

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Traveling is always full of surprises, but some of them are a little more unexpected than others.

IMG_0582-001A world-class dinosaur museum in little Tucumcari, New Mexico? No.

Yes.

We knew dinosaurs once stomped all over the state, and people told us even today, if you hike around here long enough, you have a good chance of finding a big, ol’ footprint.

But we never expected to find what we found  – the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum, affiliated with Mesalands Community College.

MCC offers Associate degrees in two disciplines: Natural Science – either geology or paleontology – and Fine Arts.

Those enrolled in the Fine Arts program can take classes in sculpture, mold making,and metal casting, as well as classes in other media.

IMG_0579Here, the mold making and metal casting classes dovetail with the Natural Science courses to produce a vibrant, very enjoyable showplace of the world’s largest collection of cast bronze prehistoric skeletons.

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The bronzes, unlike the resin models in must museums, are very resilient and invite the visitor of interact by touching.

Molds of the actual bones are made, then cast using the lost wax method at the College’s own bronze foundry. The resulting skeletons shine and shimmer as they catch the light, giving each one artistic as well as scientific value.

IMG_0583The museum is also home to many fossils, figures and minerals representing the unique paleontology and geology of the region.

Natural Science students regularly participate in archaeological digs in the area, thus learning the latest techniques in fossil preparation. They also as engage in a variety of undergraduate research projects funded through various sources.

Large portions of New Mexico were once under water, leaving behind an abundance of fossils you wouldn't expect to find here.

Large portions of New Mexico were once under water, leaving behind an abundance of fossils you wouldn’t expect to find here.

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