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.