Dinosaur Hall at the Museum of the Rockies

  • Nature, Animals & Parks
  • 2007

The world’s greatest collection of dinosaur fossils is not located at the Smithsonian, or Field, or British museums, not in New York or Oxford or Boston. It is housed in Bozeman, Montana, at the Museum of the Rockies. The MOR possesses more T. Rex specimens (13) than any other institution, including the world’s largest T. Rex skull. Its curators excavated and conserved the second-most-complete T. Rex skeleton in existence; they were the first to discover soft tissue and proteins in dinosaur bones 67 million years old; the first to document an ovulating female dinosaur; and leaders in finding and categorizing baby and juvenile dinosaurs. The Museum of the Rockies has pioneered new understanding of the growth rates and behavior of dinosaurs, and has launched many fresh hypotheses, such as that tyrannosaurs were scavengers rather than predators, and that dinosaurs nurtured offspring in colonies rather than leaving them to their own devices like modern reptiles.

The museum is associated with Montana State University, but is an independent nonprofit, and heavily reliant upon private philanthropy in developing the dinosaur collections it is famous for. Prominent national donors like Tom Siebel, Catherine Reynolds, George Lucas, Nathan Myhrvold, Ted Turner, and Klein Gilhousen have paid for excavations, subsidized research, and funded the creation of a spectacular museum exhibition that opened in 2007: the Siebel Dinosaur Complex. “This is my dream dinosaur hall,” explained MOR curator of paleontology Jack Horner, the world’s most prominent dinosaur expert, who designed the exhibits paid for by Siebel and others. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported on the opening of the complex: “Horner said almost all of the money supporting the museum’s paleontology comes from private donations. Winning grants from agencies like the National Science Foundation is fine, he said, but they always ask, ‘Can you do it with less?’ Private donors, on the other hand, tend to ask, ‘Are you sure it’s enough?’”