Friday Photos: Dinosaur Museum

Herrerasaurus (left) and Plateosaurus (right) represent Triassic dinosaurs at Blanding, Utah's Dinosaur Museum. See Heinrich Mallison's Digital Plateosaurus papers for a more accurate reconstruction of the sauropodomorph. Photo by the author.

Last week I shared a few photos from my visit to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. On the drive south to Albuquerque, I also stopped by an unusual dinosaur showcase in Blanding, Utah.

Simply called The Dinosaur Museum, the collection of sculptures, skeletons, and art is managed by artists Stephen and Sylvia Czerkas. There are some fascinating bits of dinosauriana among the displays – such as an original sketch of “Laelaps” by 19th century paleontologist E.D. Cope and the decaying body of King Kong’s “Brontosaurus” model – but the museum’s feathered dinosaur exhibit takes a weird turn.

Contrary to the overwhelming body of evidence showing that birds are living dinosaurs, the Czerkas’ displays erroneously state that birds broke off from some earlier, non-dinosaurian branch of the archosaur family tree. Even stranger, they affirm that some dinosaurs – such as the massive, bizarre Therizinosaurus – were actually birds that lost the ability to fly. (Sadly, the museum’s full-size, feathery Therizinosaurus was not on display when I visited.) What we really know about bird origins is presented backwards. And if you know anything about the “Archaeoraptor” flap, you’re aware that the misconstrued take on avian origins isn’t even the most controversial aspect of the museum. This isolated roadside stop is one of the weirdest dinosaur museums I’ve seen anywhere.

Allosaurus - Utah's state fossil - is the centerpiece of the museum's first gallery. Sculpture by Stephen and Sylvia Czerkas. Photo by the author.
Little Scansoriopteryx looks like a Fraggle Rock reject. Sculpture by Stephen and Sylvia Czerkas. Photo by the author.
Microraptor is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore! (Although the museum falsely calls this dinosaur Cryptovolans.) Sculpture by Stephen and Sylvia Czerkas. Photo by the author.
Deinonychus isn't looking so good. Even sadder, a donation box beneath the sculpture says "I'm cold, and need some feathers." Sculpture by Stephen and Sylvia Czerkas. Photo by the author.

5 thoughts on “Friday Photos: Dinosaur Museum

  1. The Czerkas’s Deinonychus still looks awesome, even though it still lacks feathers and time has not been kind to it.

    The Microraptor is asking to be captioned “COME AT ME BRO”

    1. Do you happen to know if they have the specimens of Scansoriopteryx, “Omnivoropteryx”, “Cryptovolans,” etc. housed there, or are they still on tour, or have they been repatriated already?

  2. an interesting “intermediate” Plateosaurus! The hands and feet are OK, the elbow, shoulder girdle, etc. are not OK. THis looks like a SMNS mount rip-off, but has been improved some.

  3. Your review is very helpful to me. I had considered a weekend trek to Blanding, but now I’m not so sure!

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