4,500-pound dinosaur skull flies by military helicopter to N.M. museum

Posted at 1:05 PM, Oct 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-30 13:05:53-04

If only the Pentaceraptops could have lived to see this day.

Strictly a heavyset ground dinosaur 75 million years ago, it would have never imagined itself taking flight. But on Thursday, military helicopters lifted its bones from New Mexico’s Bisti Wilderness Area to a museum, including its 4,500-pound skull.

Had eyes been in the sockets of that skull, they would have bulged at the dizzying heights to which the New Mexico National Guard Black Hawk choppers lifted it on the way to its new resting place.

It was just a teenager when it died, the only adolescent of its species ever found, according to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Four years ago, scientists from the museum discovered the fossils of the young dinosaur along with those of a nearby adult on federal land.

Since the ancient bones were excavated from an area where vehicular traffic was not allowed, the National Guard deployed Black Hawks to fly the fossils part of the way to Albuquerque.

In another modern twist, the museum’s Facebook page tracked the dinosaur’s every move.

“Lift part one accomplished!” showed a picture of a helicopter lifting the carefully wrapped remains. The next posting “Touchdown!” showed the fossil safely on the ground. “Load ’em up!” described the remains being placed onto a flatbed truck.

The trucks drove them the rest of the way to the museum. The last post said, “The Pentaceratops have made it home.”

Even with the upgraded engines, the military helicopters strained to heave the over 2-ton skull, the National Guard said.

The extinct dinosaurs — even with only bones left over — were a heavyweight challenge.

The fossils will be on display in early November.