New Mexico gets a look at first-of-its kind fossil
New Mexico gets a look at first-of-its kind fossil Tom Suazo, right, a fossil predator with the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, tells a group of children about the museum's latest find as discover Amanda Cantrell, left, listens during a public unveiling in Albuquerque, N.M., on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
New Mexico gets a look at first-of-its kind fossil
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Paleontologists in New Mexico have unveiled the first baby Pentaceratops skull ever discovered.  Hundreds of people lined up to get a look.
Scientists cut open the giant plaster jacket that protected the skull of the rhinoceros-like, plant-eating dinosaur.  This was done as it was airlifted out of the desert badlands of northwestern New Mexico. Then it was trucked to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.
They revealed the shield-like part of the dinosaur's skull.  It also revealed some teeth, an arm bone, a rib and what looked like a vertebrae. But museum curator Spencer Lucas said there's still much work to be done.
Now, technicians will begin the painstaking work of digging out the fossils from rock. The fossils have been encased for some 70 million years.
The process will take months.  But the public will be able to watch from windows that offer a view into the museum's preparation room.
Hundreds of people, including parents with their children, lined up along the windows during a free public viewing Nov. 5. Some children got an up-close look.  The museum staff showed off the find, while other visitors held up their smartphones on the other side of the glass.
Lucas said the fossils are noteworthy. He said they were sure to provide new insight into the dinosaurs that roamed North America tens of millions of years ago. Less than 10 adult Pentaceratops skulls have been unearthed over the past century.  This marks the first baby skull to ever be recovered, Lucas said.
"So here now we have the first glimpse at growth and the early stages of life of this dinosaur," he said.
Experts say Pentaceratops was one of the largest, if not the largest, horned dinosaur that ever lived. It could be up to 27 feet long and weigh 5 tons or more.
Paleontologists suspect Pentaceratops may have used its five horns for defense. Evidence also suggests the horns and the shield-like part of the skull could have been used to attract mates.
The remains of the young Pentaceratops appear to have been washed through a streambed.  Some of the skeleton has fallen apart. But how the animal met its end is being investigated, scientists said.
Muddy conditions stopped the team from transporting the plaster jacket that contains the remainder of the baby's skeleton. That will happen later.
The discovery was made in 2011 in the Bisti Wilderness by Amanda Cantrell.  She is the museum's geoscience collections manager. A few years of planning, permitting and excavation followed with the help of New Mexico National Guard Blackhawk helicopters.
Pilot Kevin Doo attended the unveiling with his wife and child. He said it was amazing to see the precious cargo unwrapped.
"What a terrific find," he said.  Doo noted that a lot of hard work went into pulling off the unique recovery mission.
A crew of museum staff and volunteers also had to pack in tons of tools, water, plaster and other materials to prepare the fossils for removal.  That's because the find was made within a federally protected wilderness area.

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Why will digging out the fossils take months?
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  • tym-orv
    11/17/2015 - 01:02 p.m.

    The paleontologists found a fossil in New Mexico.It was the first baby pentaceratops skill ever discovered.They have to dig out the fossils from the rock that have been stuck for 70 million years.This will prouide new information about the dinosaur that roamed North America tens of millions of years ago.

  • brandony-ver
    11/17/2015 - 01:11 p.m.

    It will take months because they are very large, and the "diggers" would have to be careful that they don't break or crack a bone. Also they don't exactly have all day to spend digging them out.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    11/17/2015 - 08:49 p.m.

    I think that it is cool for people in Mexico to find a fossil of a Pentaceatops but some of the parts might have been missing because the fossil looks strange without the tail. The fossil might have been the first time that New Mexico had ever received the fossil.

  • John0724-YYCA
    11/17/2015 - 09:18 p.m.

    I think that it is very cool for people like the people in this museum who found this amazing fossil that is a rhino like dinosaur creature. I think that now people are smart.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    11/17/2015 - 09:49 p.m.

    I think this is cool because this is the first fossil of a baby Pentaceratops that was found in North America. This must be very exciting because this is the first fossil found yet. New Mexico is very lucky to find it because it is the first of its kind.
    Why will digging out the fossils take months?
    Answer: Digging out the fossils will take months because it is in a federally protected wilderness area.

  • ryans-5-ver
    11/18/2015 - 10:53 a.m.

    That really is a great find. I wonder what else they will unearth.

  • hudsonh-ver
    11/18/2015 - 01:21 p.m.

    Why has it been that this dinosaur has been so rare to uncover. If so there may yet be millions of dinosaurs waiting to be uncovered, maybe yet a new species never thought of.

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    11/18/2015 - 01:22 p.m.

    I think it will take so long to dig the fossils out because they don't want to rush themselves and mess the fossil up.

  • amberb-lam
    11/18/2015 - 01:31 p.m.

    This is so interesting! It's so fascinating to find creatures that have lived here millions of years ago.

  • amberd-ter
    11/19/2015 - 11:14 a.m.

    Wow. Seriously. I LOVE dinosaurs, with all caps. I can hardly think about the huge gigantic creatures that roamed the earth, that crushed plants and other creatures. While our ancestors lived in holes in the ground eating bugs and plants. I like how they have the coolest names and when you code break them, (look them up in the dictionary *cough* *cough*) they have very literal meanings, like three-horned lizard (triceratops) or great lizard (guess). Also Captain Kevin Doo has a wierd last name.

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