January 22nd

1998 – Coelophysis Skull Taken to Space Aboard Endeavor

On this day in dinosaurs, the bones of one of the earliest predatory dinosaurs were taken aboard the space shuttle Endeavor and flown outside our planet’s atmosphere.

Novelty can be the only reason to take dinosaur fossils to space. Most dinophiles are baffled as ti why anyone would go through the trouble of bringing the bones of extinct animals into orbit. Surprisingly dinosaurs have been transported into space several times.

In 1985, bones and eggshell from Maiasaura peeblesorum were granted the honor of being the first dinosaur remains to travel in space. After the mission, NASA returned the fossils to their home at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana.

National Geographic
National Geographic

On January 22nd, 1998, the skull of Coelophysis became the second dinosaur in space. The skull was borrowed from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh and taken to by Endeavor to Russia’s Mir space station.

Distinction is granted to any person or object that becomes an outer space voyager, but dinosaurs are particularly poignant travelers beyond our planet because their ultimate extinction would come from beyond the Earth. That another species would hold them in such high regard as to fly them beyond their home is a peculiar act, but one which showcases our fascination and reverence for the greatest terrestrial beings to rule our planet.

Share your favorite images of Coelophysis, Maiasaura, or wacky pictures of dinosaurs in space with us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TDIDinos.