Mexican Archaeology

Acámbaro Dinosaurs

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Acámbaro Museum Director Miguel Huerta

My question is this:  If these figures really date that far back in history, HOW did the people who made them KNOW what they looked like?  WE didn't know what dinosaurs looked like until about 200 years ago.  Is it possible that these creatures where still in this area during the time these people lived?

































The claim has been made that only Waldamar Julsrud's excavations ever produced the distinctive ceramic objects that make up this collection. Why haven't other excavations found Julsrud type ceramics and dinosaur figurines? In August of 1999, Dr. Dennis Swift and Dr. Don Patton ventured back to Acambaro to seek answers to such questions. By chance while having dinner at a local Acambaro restaurant we met Ernesto Narrvete Marines. In the 1970's Ernesto was commander of the Federal Police for the Celaya zone of Guanajuanto, which includes the Acambaro area. Ernesto received a tip one night in 1978 that illegal excavations were taking place on Chivo (goat) Mountain and that the artifacts were being traded for pistols, rifles, machine guns as well as other weapons on the black market. Commander Ernesto Marines, who was trained at Scotland Yard, conducted a thorough investigation. The investigation revealed that artifacts dug up on Chivo Mountain were being taken to the border at Laredo, Texas and traded for arms, which was a Federal crime.

When Ernesto apprehended Jaime Aquirre and Raul Hernandez on Chivo Countain had in their possession 3,300 Julsrud type pottery figurines. The commander catalogued the collection as evidence and told us that he personally observed nine dinosaur figurines. Ernesto drew a sketch for us of the dinosaurs he had seen in the collection. These illegally excavated artifacts were handed over to Dr. Luis Moto, Mayor of Acambaro in 1978-1979, and kept in City Hall.

The artifacts were accepted as genuine by the Federal Court of Mexico when they were used as prima facie evidence in the trial of Jaime Aquirre and Raul Hernandez. Jaime and Raul were sentenced to the Federal prison in Mexico City where they are still serving time. If Jaime and Raul had been peddling phony pottery, fakes of modern manufacture, they would not have been sentenced to prison. Furthermore, the fact that Jaime and Raul were sentenced for trading genuine artifacts should silence the critics who say that no other Julsrud type ceramic pieces have ever been found by others.

While in Acambaro the authors were introduced to Dr. J. Antonio Villia Hennejon who has a medical practice in Guadalajara and Acambaro, Mexico. Dr. Herrejon personally excavated ceramic artifacts on Bull Mountain and Goat Mountain from 1950 to 1955.

Dr. Herrejon insisted that the ground he dug in was hard packed with no loose soil. This was confirmed in personal conservation with other participants in such excavations who remain in Acambaro; i.e. Porfirio Martinez Espinoseo, who accompanied us to Goat mountain and showed us where in his youth he had excavated hundreds of ceramic artifacts. Twice Dr. Herrejon accompanied Julsrud on burros to an area below Goat Mountain, near a lake. There he said on terrain that was overgrown with grass and cactus, they dug up many ceramic pottery pieces including enough dinosaur figurines to fill two bags to be carried back on a burro.

Antonio Herrejon recalled that in the 1940's and early 1950's virtually nothing was known about dinosaurs in Mexico. They had no books, pamphlets, matchbox covers, movies or other information about dinosaurs. Herrejon postulated that the only dinosaur skeleton on display in Mexico in the 1940's was that of a brontosaurus at the Chupa railroad station in Mexico City.

The figurines he saw in the late 1940's and early 1950's were simply curious looking creatures that many years later were correctly identified as particular dinosaur species. Dr. Herrejon said that even most of the Brontosaurs looking dinosaurs did not look like a "typical" saurian dinosaur. We pressed him as to what he meant by "typical?" He replied, "they had spines all down their backs, little spines." We drew dinosaurs with conical dermal spines and Antonio pointed vigorously stating in Spanish, "That's it, That's it".

Dr. Herrejon unwittingly had helped to verify the authenticity of the Julsrud dinosaur figurines. No one knew in the 1940s, 50's, that some species of Saurian dinosaurs had dermal spines. They were perceived as represented on the Sinclair gasoline filling station signs. It was the work of Stephen Czerkas in a 1992 article that brought to light this aspect of dinosaur anatomy (Geology, V.20, No.12, 1992, p.1068-1070).

Dr. Herrejon was intimately aware of the details and of the immensity of the Julsrud collection (33,700 ceramic pieces). He said it was simply astonishing that not one piece was a duplicate of another. They were all individually distinct. Others who closely examined the collection have also observed this fact. Antonio commented, "If there was a fabrication who was its artist?" No single artist could make 33,700 figurines, all different in style. If there was a hoax then there must have been many artists. How could such a conspiracy be kept silent all these years? Surely someone would have known about such activities.

Dr. Swift inquired of Dr. Herrejon as to the condition of the artifacts when they were excavated. Antonio said that they were encrusted with dirt and other materials (patina). During Easter week of 1951 Antonio spent two days with Julsrud cleaning the dirt and patina off recently excavated ceramic pieces.

Herrejon and Julsrud did not realize that the absence of patina on the objects would later erupt into accusations that they could not be old or authentic. Julsrud ignorantly commenced the cleaning of all the artifacts back in the 1940's. The job was completed by Tinejero and his helpers.

However, there are many eyewitnesses who saw Julsrud's excavating of the ceramic pieces and confirm that the artifacts had patina and dirt on them.

In the process of handling of several hundred pieces of the Julsrud collection, the authors have observed pieces that still have dirt embedded in the crevices as well as some patina on the surface.