On Tuesday, Paleontologists and curators unveiled parts of a nearly complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, including its jaw with teeth at the National Museum of Natural History. T. Rex is joining the Smithsonian collection after a 2,000-mile journey from Montana. FedEx delivered the dinosaur bones in a special truck carrying 16 carefully packed crates that were kept at room temperature for the nearly four-day trip.
A large leg bone and the T. Rex teeth drew “ahs” as Museum Director Kirk Johnson told a crowd that the skeleton ranks as one of the top five T. Rex skeletons discovered because it’s about 85 percent complete.”It lay in the ground much as it had died on the shores of a stream in Montana just over 66 million years ago,” Johnson said.
The T. rex, discovered in 1988 on federal land in Montana. Kathy Wankel, a Montana rancher who discovered the bones in 1998 during a camping trip, said she was proud to see the specimen in a national museum. She spotted about 3 inches of bone sticking out of the ground, and she and her husband dug out a small arm bone. “We were so thrilled we had found a bone; we called that a mega find,” she said at the museum. “But I think now this is a mega find.”
Visitors can get their first look over the next six months as curators begin unpacking, examining and 3D scanning the skeleton. But it will take five years for the museum to overhaul its dinosaur hall, with the T. rex mounted as the centerpiece of a $48 million gallery devoted to the history of life on Earth. It’s slated to open in 2019.
“There’s so many things that have happened in science in the last 100 years that this will be a great new hall,”Johnson said.