Visitors to the Museum are welcomed by two life-size New Mexico dinosaurs created by Albuquerque sculptor Dave Thomas.
The first dinosaur installed at the Museum entrance was a Pentaceratops, affectionately nicknamed “Spike.” Pentaceratops was a horned dinosaur whose fossils were first discovered in the badlands of northwest New Mexico. About 75 million years ago, this dinosaur would have cropped vegetation from the subtropical swamps near the shore of the Cretaceous sea that covered much of New Mexico. The name Pentaceratops means “five-horned face,” and all five can be seen on Spike—one over each eye, one on each cheek and one on the nose. Casts of two Pentaceratops skulls are on display in the New Mexico's Seacoast exhibit.
In 1988, Spike was joined by a new dinosaur in front of the Museum. Alberta, a meat-eating Albertosaurus, was sculpted in mid-stride, and placed across the entry courtyard, her head turned to meet Spike's watchful gaze.
Albertosaurus is a tyrannosaur, slightly smaller and more slender than its more famous cousin, Tyrannosaurus rex. It was named after Alberta, Canada, where it was first discovered. When Alberta was sculpted, scientists thought that some of the fragmentary tyrannosaur fossils from New Mexico were from Albertosaurus. In recent years, Museum researchers have found more complete tyrannosaur fossils that show New Mexico was home to a unique species of tyrannosaur, called Bistahieversor, or informally, "The Bisti Beast." Tyrannosaur fossils from New Mexico are on display in the Museum Atrium and the New Mexico's Seacoast exhibit.