In a remarkable find, a new Tyrannosaurus Rex has joined the world’s collection of dinosaur bones.
Paleontologists at Seattle’s Burke Museum have excavated a set of the carnivorous dinosaur’s vertebrae, hips, ribs, lower jaw bones and an almost complete skull measuring four feet, News Observer reports.
The Hell Creek Formation in Montana is a site known for its fossil treasures. Scientists, volunteers, and students have been working all summer long on unearthing the dinosaur bones, which represent around 20% of the T. Rex’s total mass.
The team lifted the giant, 2,500-pound skull in a plaster cast to keep it safe, loaded it onto a flatbed truck and brought it to Seattle, where it was delivered to the Burke Museum on Thursday.
The skill will remain on display to the public for the next few weeks, and scientists will work to carefully remove the skull’s rock casing.
Paleontologists say this predator is around 85% the size of the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex ever discovered, and that its skull suggests it was 15 years old at the time of death. They estimate it to have lived during the late Cretaceous period.
So far, there are only 14 other near-complete T. Rex skulls in the world, the museum noted.
Gregory Wilson, a biology professor at the University of Washington and adjunct curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Burke Museum, led the Montana team. He said,
We think the Tufts-Love Rex is going to be an iconic specimen for the Burke Museum and the state of Washington and will be a must-see for dinosaur researchers as well.
The T. Rex was named after Jason Love and Luke Tufts, two of the museum’s volunteers who had stumbled onto the massive fossils while searching on a rocky hillside at the dig site.
The group of scientists was excavating as part of the Hell Creek Project, which was founded by Jack Horner. Horner is known for discovering the very first dinosaur embryos. The team was aware they had found a meat-eating dinosaur due to the size of the bones, and took a month to dig further and confirm that they were looking at a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The paleontologists think the rest of the animal’s skull is still on site and intend to return next year to search for the remainder of the Tuft-Love bones.