The Bisti Beast: #bornwild on BLM’s National Conservation Lands
To celebrate the anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. is showcasing a photography exhibit highlighting the beauty, diversity and longevity of America’s wilderness. The Wilderness Forever: 50 Years of Protecting America’s Wild Places exhibit opened today, September 3, 2014.
Upon entrance to the exhibit hall, visitors are greeted by the Bisti Beast, a dinosaur skull on loan from the BLM to the Smithsonian. The partial skeleton was discovered in 1997, by a volunteer fossil researcher named Paul Sealey, during a weekend excursion in the 40,000-acre Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness in northwestern New Mexico.
After working with the BLM to secure permits, a paleontological team planned the first-ever excavation on wilderness land. All the tools required were carried to the site by hand. For the specimen’s final removal from Bisti/De-Na-Zin in summer 1998, the New Mexico Army National Guard airlifted the pieces out of the wilderness via helicopter.
The Bisti Beast was officially named after the volunteer who discovered it: Bistahieversor sealeyi—a combination of Greek and Navajo words that means “Sealey’s Destroyer of the Badlands.”
As the most visited natural history museum in the world, up to six million visitors may visit the Wilderness Forever exhibit and meet the Bisti Beast. For more information visit: https://www.mnh.si.edu/exhibits/
Story and exhibit photos by Lissa Eng, public affairs specialist, BLM National Office