Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum
The warehouse-sized museum contains a mixture of fossilized skeletons and cast replicas. The replicas include a juvenile Triceratops, a full-sized mastodon skeleton, the largest hadrosaur leg ever found, and the world's largest ice age bison skull. Real bones displayed include the head of a metoposaur, and once included the world's largest four-tusked mastodon skull.
The museum also bases the Mount Blanco fossil excavation team who go on digs and investigate fossil evidence according to a creationist view. The museum has collaborated with Carl Baugh of the Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, Texas, in casting alleged mixed human and dinosaur footprints. Those prints have been strongly criticized as incorrectly identified dinosaur prints, other fossils, or outright forgeries.
Its owner, director, and curator is Joe Taylor (b circa 1945) who was an artist-turned-expert in making castings of ancient bones. Taylor was born to a farm family in Crosbyton, and was raised in the Primitive Baptist church. He worked as a commercial artist in Hollywood, California, on billboards on the Sunset Strip, magazine illustrations, the lettering on the original Mr. Pibb soda cans, and many album covers, which still fill a room in the museum. He became interested in fossils after cleaning and preparing bones at the La Brea tar pits, and made a 10-foot-by-40-foot casting of the Waco, Texas mammoth site, now on exhibit at Baylor University. He returned to Texas in 1984, to make a living as a fossil collector and mold-maker.[not in citation given] In 1986, he painted a 40 feet long and 10 feet high mural of the history of Crosbyton for the nearby Crosby County Pioneer Memorial Museum.
"Lone Star" mastodon skull
The largest mastodon skull on record was found in February 2004 in a gravel pit near La Grange, Texas. It was in pieces, and acquiring and assembling the skull took the museum a year and a half, and $141,000. The skull weighed 700 pounds, and was almost the size of a Volkswagen. It was named "Lone Star", and became the centerpiece of the museum.
However, in 2001 and 2002, Taylor and the Mount Blanco fossil excavation team had cooperated with another team in excavating the skeleton of an Allosaurus outside Dinosaur, Colorado. The exact nature of each team's contributions became contentious, and the groups argued publicly until an agreement in April 2004, which awarded Taylor $124,843 out of $200,000 for his share of the Allosaurus, and committed all parties to refrain from disparaging the others. Over the next three years, Taylor continued to disparage the other side on the Internet, resulting in a fine of $136,000 in damages.
On January 20, 2008, as the sheriff's department was preparing to force the sale of the museum to pay the fine, the Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum auctioned off the prize exhibit of its collection. The world's largest mastodon skull was auctioned with Heritage Auctions of Dallas, and sold for $191,200, of which Taylor received $128,000, enabling the museum to stay open.
Taylor never received the $127,000 owed to him from the sale of the Lone Star mastodon. Heritage Auction House turned the money over to Pete DeRosa Sr. to settle the suit won by DeRosa against Taylor. This caused Taylor to close his museum for two years, opening sporadically until the last two museum workers were forced to leave. Taylor re-opened in 2010.
- "Fossil find could lead to ruin of Crosbyton museum owner", by Henri Brickey, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, January 13, 2008.
- "Day Trips", by Gerald McLeod, November 3, 2006, Austin Chronicle.[dead link]
- "Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum: A Trip Back in Time". KCBD. July 30, 2002.
- Ray Westbrook (April 12, 2007). "Cast of possible ancient human footprints on display at museum". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
- "Taylor Trail". Mt. Blanco Official Site. April 2007.
- John R. Armstrong (March 1989). "Seeking Ancient Paths". PSCF (American Scientific Affiliation) 41: 33–35. Retrieved August 15, 2008.
- "Find history housed in two museums on Crosbyton's Main Street", May 18, 2007, by Steffanie Cummings, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
- "The 700 Pound Bone Trophy in Crosbyton", July 25, 2006, KCBD
- "Creation museum selling mastodon skull", by Paul J. Weber, Associated Press, January 17, 2008, published by MSNBC. Also at ABC News. .
- "W. Texas museum hoping to turn things around with skull's auction", by Joanna Cattanach, The Dallas Morning News, January 16, 2008.
- "The Four-Tusked 'Lone Star' Mastodon", 2008 January Signature Natural History Auction, Heritage Auctions.
- "World's Largest Mastodon Skull Goes for $191,200 in Auction", January 19, 2008, KCBD.
- "Texas mastodon skull sells for $191K at Dallas auction", by Joanna Cattanach, January 20, 2008, The Dallas Morning News.
- "Artifact's sale may save Crosbyton fossil museum", by Henri Brickey, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, January 25, 2008