Dinosaur remains that were discovered in the New Mexico wilderness were recently airlifted out of the area by a helicopter of the state's National Guard and transferred to a museum in Albuquerque.
Experts from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science watched as the full skeletal fossils of a young Pentaceratops were encased in a plaster and airlifted away from the wilderness. The young Pentaceratops was once an herbivorous dinosaur with large horns that lived roughly 10 million years ago in the area which is now known as North America.
Scientists from the museum took a special interest in the dinosaur when they found the remains during a trek to the Bisti wilderness in 2011. They knew that they had to find a way to unearth the fossils and get them into their museum.
Aside from the young Pentaceratops, the National Guard also airlifted the skull of an adult Pentaceratops which was discovered about 10 miles away from the site.
Museum curator Spencer Lucas explained that since the fossils were found in federal area that is off-limits to vehicles, the National Guard had to deploy their Blackhawk helicopters to get the remains. Lucas said that the team had to pack in countless water jugs, hundreds of pounds of plaster, and a battery of heavy tools for the operation.
The museum's Facebook page posted several photos that showed the transfer, and the experts announced that one plaster of the fossils will be on display on Nov. 5.
Captain Kevin Doo, the National Guard aviator who performed the transfer, said that the event was one of the highlights of his career. He also said that the skull of the adult Pentaceratops weighed 4,500 pounds, and that even with the upgraded engines of the Blackhawk, lifting the fossils was a real challenge.
Meanwhile, Lucas said that the event marks the first skeleton and skull of a baby Pentaceratops ever to be recovered. She also said that a total of less than 10 adult Pentaceratops have been excavated over the past century.
"We know what the adult skull of a Pentaceratops looks like, but we've never seen a juvenile skull. So it will be interesting to see what the differences are in shape, the size of the horns and other kinds of features," he said.
Scientists have yet to uncover how the baby Pentaceratops met its demise, but they said that the remains seem to have been washed down.
Lucas added that they still have to clean up and arrange the dinosaur's bones, and that they will be examining it for tooth marks.
It will take a while before they find answers, he said, but the museum is very interested and dedicated in the study of these fossils.