Naturalis finds the coveted T. rex


Share post:

Naturalis Biodiversity Centre continues in its search for a Tyrannosaurus Rex.  Excavation works commenced last week on a ranch in Montana, in collaboration with the Black Hills Institute. The excavation is still in progress, but it is already clear that the result will be a magnificent T. Rex.

Naturalis finds the coveted T. rex
Paleontologists excavate a T. rex on a ranch in Montana [Credit: Naturalis]

Naturalis began its search for a Tyrannosaurus Rex – the King of the Dinosaurs – this spring. During the first expedition, only parts of the left foot and leg of the Tyrannosaurus Rex were found, although the expedition team had expected more remains. Naturalis is currently digging further in Montana at another T. Rex discovery site. Of this specimen, large parts of the enormous skull, spine and legs have already been uncovered. Since then, many more parts of the skeleton have been found. It is an adult specimen, most likely a female. The bones are well-preserved; they do not show any deformation or splintering, as is often the case with other fossilised dinosaurs.

With the T. Rex, Naturalis wants to bring home the most famous and iconic carnivorous dinosaur in the world; it currently has only herbivorous dinosaurs in its collection and is seeking a carnivore to complete the picture. The all-new Naturalis museum opens in 2017 and the highlight of its new exhibition will be a Dino Hall, which will display the extensive diversity of these reptiles. T. Rex will be the main attraction.

T. Rex is extremely rare and as such its importance as a public attraction is matched by its significance for science. Edwin van Huis, director of Naturalis Biodiversity Centre: “Each bone of every T. Rex provides more knowledge about this predator and its surroundings. We can conduct decades of research on this.” This will be the first original skeleton of a T. Rex that can be seen outside the United States. The fossil is the property of the landowner, but Naturalis has the right of first purchase. To get the purchase amount together, Naturalis will be running extensive fundraising campaigns.

Promising indications

T. Rex expert Pete Larson of the Black Hills Institute, Hill City, South Dakota, US, also played an important part in this discovery. He happened to know the place in Montana where the fossil remains were discovered by an amateur palaeontologist couple. They had uncovered a part of the skull, namely the lower jaw, some loose teeth and part of the hip and tail. Hopes were high that there would be more to come.

Scientific importance

Apart from the fact that the animal will be a public attraction for the museum, the T. Rex skeleton also has great scientific value. Palaeontologist and dinosaur expert Anne Schulp, participating in the excavation in America on behalf of Naturalis, said: “I am delighted to have been able to participate in this excavation. There are few known fossil discoveries of the T. Rex, while to this day may questions remain unanswered. For example, we still do not know exactly how long its tail was – no complete tail has ever been found. Distinguishing between males and females is also an interesting puzzle that is still not completely solved.” There are also questions such as: how intelligent was the T. Rex, was it a social animal, did it practice parental care, did it exhibit migratory behaviour? Naturalis research can use this fossil to contribute to solving these issues, gaining new insights or even raising new questions.

The King of the Carnivores

Tyrannosaurus Rex lived during the late Cretaceous period, 67.5 to 66 million years ago. It is one of the largest carnivores that ever roamed the earth. There is no known vertebrate with a more powerful bite than this dinosaur. An adult animal could be almost thirteen meters long and weigh four to five tonnes. Remains of the T. Rex have only been discovered in western North America.

Experience the excavation itself

The public can follow what happens during the excavation and share in the excitement. The expedition members are recording their daily experiences in text and video on a news blog at National Geographic Magazine Netherlands/Belgium has also reported on the excavation and will publish this in a later issue.

Source: PR Newswire [September 07, 2013]



Related articles

Ancient Hamoukar threatened by Syrian War

An ancient city in Syria, which was the site of the earliest known case of urban warfare, now...

Return Venus de Milo please: Greeks make formal request to Louvre

It has been almost 200 years since the famous Greek statue known to Greeks as Aphrodite of Milos,...

Venus takes center stage in upcoming rare sky show

It's a spectacle that won't repeat for another century - the sight of Venus slowly inching across the...

More on Tablet discovery pushes earliest European writing back 150 years

An archaeologist digging in the rubble of a distant past counts on the conqueror’s havoc, nature’s upheavals and...

Herbivore populations, food supply in danger

As climate change causes temperatures to rise, the number of herbivores will decrease, affecting the human food supply,...

Sassanid structures uncovered in Takestan

The second season of archaeological expedition in Takestan’s Islamic Azad University site has uncovered architectural structures possibly Sassanid...

More questions raised by latest discoveries at Phoenician shipwreck near Malta’s Gozo

The oldest shipwreck ever found in Central Mediterranean, located to the west of the Maltese island of Gozo...

Fin study gives hint on hind leg evolution

A new study of fin development in fish has shed light on the evolution of hind leg muscles...