Museum’s Unique Fossil Collection & Paleoart Exhibit Open For Paleontologists Convention In Albuquerque

Left, Forelimb of an early Paleocene mammal, Pantolambda, from the San Juan Basin, New Mexico. Middle: Bisti Beast (Bistahieversor sealeyi) Skull. Right: Miocene Gomphotherium skull being prepared. Courtesy/NM Museum of Natural History & Science


Fossils are the focus this Fall when the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science displays rarely seen specimens from its permanent collection in a new exhibition, Back to Bones: New Mexico’s Links to the Past. In September, the museum opens a Paleoart show entitled Picturing the Past, and hosts Dino Dash – a costumed family fun run, plus the Cretaceous Couture fashion show. These events are planned in anticipation of the 78th annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Albuquerque Oct. 17-20.

The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) is an international organization of scientists and other people interested in the study of fossils of animals with backbones (see There are approximately 2,300 members. The society’s annual meeting is held in the autumn, usually at a major city that has, or is near, a natural history museum. SVP last held its annual meeting in Albuquerque in 1993 (25 years ago).

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (NMMNHS) is co-hosting the meeting with the University of New Mexico. The meeting will be held at the Albuquerque Convention Center. One of the nightly events, the SVP Welcome Reception will be held at the museum the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 17.

“We are delighted to host this illustrious group of fossil fanatics at the museum before the conference begins,” NMMNHS Director Margie Marino said.

In advance of the SVP convention, NMMNHS plans to feature its extensive fossil collection with a new, Back to Bones: New Mexico’s Links to the Past ​ exhibition, highlighting some of its most spectacular vertebrate fossils – the result of over 30 years of collecting efforts. The exhibit will be up for at least a year starting Oct. 6.

New Mexico contains a variety of rich and famous vertebrate fossil sites ranging from the late Paleozoic through the Quaternary. Exceptional New Mexico fossil locales include the Pennsylvanian Kinney Brick Quarry, the Permian Prehistoric Trackways National Monument, the Triassic sites of the Ghost Ranch area, Cretaceous, Paleocene, and Eocene sites within the San Juan Basin, Miocene sites of the Española Basin, and numerous Pleistocene cave sites including Dry Cave, Sandia Cave and U-Bar Cave.

“Our museum has amassed some fantastic fossils over the last 30 years,” said Dr. Thomas E. Williamson, Paleontology Curator at NMMNHS and co-chair of the SVP convention. “Everything from 300-million-year-old fish and early reptiles, dinosaur skulls from near the end of the Age of Reptiles, to Ice Age mammals. The SVP convention affords us a chance to really show off some of our most prized specimens.”

Dr. Stephen Brusatte, author of the book “The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs” and the SVP’s keynote speaker, will give a free public lecture at the Museum the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. and seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis until the capacity of the DynaTheater is reached.

A juried exhibition of paleoart Picturing the Past will be displayed Oct. 6, 2018 – Jan. 4, 2019 at the NMMNHS.

Paleoart is scientifically informed artwork that reconstructs ancient life and prehistoric environments. These artists literally draw from the fossil record for their inspiration, using their knowledge of anatomy, evolution and inference to create lifelike renderings of creatures that went extinct millions of years ago.

Picturing the Past will feature juried selections from hundreds of works submitted by contemporary paleoartists working across the globe. Their subjects span the range of life on this planet, from trilobites to dinosaurs to sabertooth cats, in media ranging from paintings to sculptures to woven textiles. The museum’s collection of paleoart will also be highlighted, showing important examples of the genre from the museum’s opening in the mid-1980s.

The museum’s Fall focus on fossils includes a Dino Dash, 7-11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 16 Walk or Run the 5K, a childrens’ 1K Fun Run or gather your friends and try the 5K Team Run. Come to the Dino Dash in your most authentic dinosaur costume! Costumes will be judged by audience feedback at the conclusion of the Kids 1K Fun Run. Information about the Dino Dash:

Tuesday, Sept. 28, 6-9 p.m., the New Mexico Museum of Natural History Foundation presents, Cretaceous Couture, a family fun fashion show featuring some of New Mexico’s favorite movers and shakers modeling new fashions provided by Dillard’s Winrock Center. The event includes a silent auction, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres. Tickets are $50, our VIP Runway seating is sold out. 

For tickets to Cretaceous Couture

About the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science:

Established in 1986, the mission of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science is to preserve and interpret the distinctive natural and scientific heritage of our state through extraordinary collections, research, exhibits, and programs designed to ignite a passion for lifelong learning. The NMMNHS offers exhibitions, programs and workshops in Geoscience, including Paleontology and Mineralogy, Bioscience and Space Science. It is the Southwest’s largest repository for fossils and includes a Planetarium and a large format 3D DynaTheater. A division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, the Museum is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. 1801 Mountain Road NW, northeast of Historic Old Town Plaza, Albuquerque, NM 87104, 505.841.2800. Events, news releases and images about activities at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science and other  divisions of the Department of Cultural Affairs can be accessed at

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