Virtual Tour of a Parasaurolophus Exhibit 

Illustration of Parasaurolophus by Richard Penney

A former exhibition at the U.S. Department of the Interior Museum in Washington, DC spotlighted an eccentric-looking herbivore named Parasaurolophus, a hollow-crested duck-billed dinosaur that roamed public lands in the U.S. Southwest 70 to 80 million years ago.   

 Placard introducing the exhibit on Parasaurolophus

Visitors to the Interior Museum were able to hear simulations of the sounds the dinosaur made through its long hollow crest; see a plaster cast of its skull; and touch its fossilized thigh bone. 

Entitled "Parasaurolophus: A Dinosaur Discovery on Interior's Public Lands," the exhibition was on loan to the Interior Museum from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. 



PaleontoloPhoto of displays at the DOI Museumgists discovered the skull of the Parasaurolophus and thigh bone of this 3-ton giant in 1995 on Bureau of Land Management public lands in the San Juan Basin in northwestern New Mexico. The extraordinary excavation of hadrosaur fossils occurred in the De-na-zin Wilderness. There, Dr. Thomas Williamson, of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, and Dr. Robert Sullivan, of The State Museum of Pennsylvania, unearthed the second most complete skull of a Parasaurolophus, a dinosaur that grew to be 33 feet long and 16 feet tall. Scientists created computer generated sounds with a three-dimensional model produced from scans of the skull. Whether this dinosaur had vocal chords remains a mystery, so the presentation includes sounds generated with and without vocal chords.

Plaster cast of Allosaurus

Artifacts from Interior Museum collections augmented the exciting story of fossil finds on Department of the Interior public lands. A plaster cast of Allosaurus, a dinosaur of the Jurassic period and nearly twice Parasaurolophus' age was also featured in the exhibit. Geologists discovered the skull at Utah's Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry overseen by the Bureau of Land Management.  

Photograph of Charles Knight's Brontotherium

 

The exhibition also featured an oil painting by American artist Charles Knight (1874-1953) of Brontotherium, extinct relatives of the rhinoceros who roamed the plains of South Dakota and Nebraska in the Eocene era 50 million years ago. Knight's well-researched and skillful depictions of extinct animals at New York's American Museum of Natural History won him acclaim and set a standard for painters of scientific subjects.