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Media Release

Published: 01/03/2008

Dawn of the Dinosaurs: New Mexico's Triassic

New permanent exhibit to open Spring 2008

Albuquerque - On May 17, 2008, the only Triassic Exhibit Hall in North America opens its doors to the public at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS: NEW MEXICO’S TRIASSIC is dedicated to the plants and animals of the Triassic Period in New Mexico and the world. The Triassic is a time that saw the extinction of many dominant reptiles and amphibians and the emergence of two significant evolutionary lines in Earth History – dinosaurs and mammals. Dinosaurs emerge as a distinct group of animals in the Late Triassic and go on to dominate the Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems until the Cretaceous impact extinction – over 160 Million years. Erythrosuchian image by Matt Celeskey Mammals chug along in the underbrush during that time until the slate is cleared at the end of the Cretaceous, opening the way for what has been another amazing evolutionary success story.

DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS will let you meet New Mexico’s official state fossil, one of the first dinosaurs, Coelophysis, a voracious predator who led the way to dinosaurian dominance of the planet. Also, see the last of the giant amphibians who are fading from the scene as reptiles gain dominance over the land and meet the archosaurian terrors of the Triassic – erythrosuchian and Phytosaur. Visitors will be able to touch a bas-relief replica of an erythrosuchian predator and marvel at the size of the giant phytosaur as it attacks the cow-like Placerias.

DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS is a highly interactive, cutting edge exhibit hall of paleontology that features living fossils, a fly-through interactive with a 2-ton slab of Coelophysis fossils, the most complete database of research into Coelophysis, a wall of phytosaur skulls showing the diversity of this dominant late Triassic predator and an interactive sculpture that allows visitors to explore the fossil evidence scientists use to identify evolutionary trends in the Triassic. The underlying theme of the hall is the evolution of species and how at any one time in Earth History species can be placed into one of three categories: a species that is first evolving (originating), a species that is Coelophysis bauri fossil from NMMNHS persisting in a stable environment, or a species that is going extinct. The Museum explores these three components extensively through text panels, interactives and an animation of the concept.

DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS is the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science’s newest, permanent exhibit and will be housed in a hall dedicated to two of the Founders of the Museum. The Mary Gavin Family Hall is dedicated to the tireless efforts of the Gavins and their successful quest to establish the Museum in the early 1980’s and their continued support of the Museum for the last 22 years. Ed and Mary both served as members of the Museum Foundation Board of Directors and on the Museum Board of Trustees. Mary Gavin is one of two Emeriti members of the Museum Board of Trustees.

DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS opens its doors to the public at 9:00 AM on Friday March 21, 2008 and will be free with regular Museum admission. The Museum is located at 1801 Mountain Road NW near Old Town, Albuquerque and is open daily from 9-5 except New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and non-holiday Mondays in January and September.

Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $4 for children ages 3-12. For more information call 505-841-2800 or visit our website at www.NMNaturalHistory.org.

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