Wyoming Dinosaur Center

A Museum You Should Visit

You should make the trip to Thermopolis, WY to visit the Wyoming Dinosaur Center This museum has the most mounted skeletons of Mesozoic vertebrates I’ve seen in a single institution, plus many more interesting fossils or casts.

Wyoming Dinosaur Center has some great Paleozoic material. There’s a placoderm and ostracoderm exhibit, covering important taxa that you don’t see exhibited often. The Center has two Dunkleosteus armored skulls, both different than the cast on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Dunkleostus skull, human child for scale

Human child for scale.

I’ve always been impressed with Dunkelosteus’ sclerotic rings. What kind of crazy environment imposed evolutionary pressure that ended up with armored eyes?

Wyoming Dinosaur Center has something like 50+ mounted skeletons, most dinosaurs, but also plesiosaur, pterosaur and mosasaur skeletons.

small mosasaur skeleton

Notice the small shoulder and pelvic bones of the mosasaur skeleton: that animal did not get any hydrodynamic thrust from its hands or legs, unlike plesiosaurs At the same time, the tail has stout, vertical spines on each vertebrae, which must have supported a lot of lateral force generated during swimming.

WDC had two complete mounted ceratopsians, including this triceratops:

triceratops skeleton

The rib cage and pelvis were more robust than I imagined. It’s easy to imagine triceratops as a ruminant herbivore when seeing the whole skeleton.

Wyoming Dinosaur Center features real fossils, not just casts.

They have the only Archaeopteryx specimen outside of Europe. I had the impression Arachaeopteryx were bigger. It looked to have been the size of a medium-small pigeon. This alone is worth the price of admission.

They also have the famous, 20-foot long, horseshoe crab mortichnial track way, which tells a more heart-rending story than any other ichnofossil. This isn’t an eye catching fossil, so keep your eyes peeled for it.