Dinosaur Photo Gallery

Parasaurolophus : A Dinosaur Discovery on Interior's Public Lands 

Exhibit at the Department of the Interior Museum, August 2001 to September 2002

The Parasaurolophus skull was discovered in August 1995 in the BLM De-na-zin Wilderness Area in the San Juan Basin in northwestern New Mexico by Dr. Thomas Williamson, then the curator of paleontology at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, and Dr. Robert Sullivan, senior curator of paleontology and geology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. Dr. Williamson was leading a scientific expedition that was conducting research on Late Cretaceous (geologic time unit that lasted from about 65 to 100 million years ago) fossils under permit from the Bureau of Land Management.  The skull is one of the most complete ever found of Parasaurolophus in the world.

Parasaurolophus, or "near-crested" dinosaur, lived about 75 million years ago when New Mexico was a lush, tropical area. Parasaurolophus was an herbivore, or plant-eating dinosaur, in the Hadrosaur or duck-billed dinosaur group. It grew to be about 33 feet long and 16 feet tall, and weighed about 3 to 4 tons. The skull bones that were found included the 4.5-foot long nasal crest (snout and nose) and the lower left jaw with all 43 rows of teeth. The bone is jet-black and glossy in color. However, some of the elements are fractured and the crest is somewhat distorted by crushing.

The skull was CAT-scanned (high-powered X-rays) by the Sandia National Laboratory; and because it is so well preserved, paleontologists were able to learn much more about the sounds these dinosaurs may have made with their crests. Scientists think that the sound made by the long hollow crest of Parasaurolophus was to communicate with others of its species or to distinguish between males and females. Click here to learn more about the CAT scan at the Sandia National Laboratory.

Entrance to DOI Museum Exhibit 

Entrance to
Parasaurolophus: A Dinosaur
 Discovery on Public Lands

  Location map of discovery site


The site location of the

Parasaurolophus discovery,

San Juan Basin, New Mexico


  Femur or thigh bone of Parasaurolophus


The femur or thigh bone of a Hadrosaur
 or "duck-billed dinosaur"




Overview of excavation site

Distant view of the excavation site 
Photo by T. Williamson





Staff excavating bones from quarry site

Staff and volunteers excavating
Photo by R. Geiser


Dr. Williamson and volunteer excavating 

Dr. Thomas Williamson and volunteer Warren Slade (left)
Photo by R. Geiser


Display case illustrating computer-generated sound

Display of Parasaurolophus skull (cast) illustrating  computer-generated sound





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