Friday, October 30, 2015

70 million-year-old Dino fossils helicoptered out of Bisti Wilderness

It was a major, but unique, mission Thursday morning as two dinosaurs were pulled out of New Mexico’s northwestern badlands with the help of helicopters. “We do find dinosaurs here, this is really a world-famous spot for finding dinosaurs,” Phil Gensler, regional paleontologist for The Bureau of Land Management, said. The mission was the culmination of four years of work to excavate two ancient creatures known as Pentaceratops. The skeletal fossils, of a baby and an adult, were tucked away in the Bisti Wilderness. They were found by staff with the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science during a land survey years ago. The baby fossil is nearly complete, but the adult Pentaceratops fossil is only the skull. This baby Pentaceratops is the only one found in the world, so scientists hope it opens the doors to learning more about these creatures. “There’s been a lot of planning, there’s been a lot of logistical arrangement,” Spencer Lucas, chief curator at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, said about the recovery. The Bisti is federally protected land, meaning no vehicles are allowed in order to keep it natural and beautiful. “All the excavation we had to do by hand,” Lucas said. “We had to haul the plaster, the water, the tools, in by hand.” But on Thursday morning, a small exception was made to airlift out the dinos, encased in plaster, so they could begin their journey to the museum in Albuquerque. The massive effort was a collaboration between museum staff, the BLM and the NM National Guard with the use of their Blackhawk helicopters. The Blackhawks picked up the plaster-encased bones, which weighed thousands of pounds, and dropped them at a nearby site accessible by car. Then they were loaded onto a flatbed truck and transported to the museum in Albuquerque...more

Several years ago I was giving a presentation on Wilderness to a group when a member of the audience stood up and said he was employed by the local BLM and asked to speak.  Turns out he was the chief over the firefighters.  He told us of an incident where a firefighter had broken a leg.  They asked for a chopper to extract the injured.  Since the injury was not "life threatening" their request was denied and they had to carry him out by hand.

I guess dinosaur bones are more important...

1 comment:

Tick said...

I'm from the guvmint and I'm here to help...uh, except when you need me.