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Desert Diary


Every natural history museum has what we call FAQs—Frequently Asked Questions. The museum staff pays close attention to questions since they give insight into what our public wants to know. One question, associated largely with our younger visitors, is "Were there dinosaurs around El Paso?" Well, there was a slight problem until recently—we didn't have any local occurrences. Dinosaur remains were known from the southeast of El Paso in the Big Bend, and in New Mexico to the north near Elephant Butte and to the west near Deming. The best we could say was the certainly in the broad sense, that the El Paso Region was dinosaur country.

All of that changed when Eric Kappus, a geology graduate student at the University of Texas at El Paso, found tracks of four to six dinosaurs in Cretaceous sediments near El Cristo Rey, just across the river from El Paso.

Need a physical connection to dinosaurs? At the Centennial Museum, you can see and touch fossilized Kritosaurus and Alamosaurus thigh bones from the Big Bend.
pen and ink


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

fossil Kritosaurus femur

Fossil femur of the dinosaur Kritosaurus. Specimen from Big Bend on display at the Centennial Museum.



Kappus, E., and W. C. Cornell. 2003. A new Cretaceous dinosaur tracksite in southern New Mexico. Palaeontologia Electronica 6, Issue 1, ISSN 1094-8074.

Lucas, S. G. 1994. Dinosaurs. The textbook. Wm. C. Brown Publishers, Dubuquem, IA, 290 pp.