A team of paleontologists from the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture and the University of Washington has unearthed the 66.3 million-year-old fossil remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex. The T. rex fossil comprises 20 percent of the dinosaur, which includes a complete skull, ribs, hips, vertebrae and lower jaw bones.
The team estimates that the dinosaur lived between 145 million and 66 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period. It was 15 years old when it died. By comparison, adult T. rex usually reach up to 25 to 30 years of age.
Its skull weighs 1,133 kilograms or 2,500 pounds and is about four feet long. The researchers believe that this dinosaur is as tall as a city bus and as long but it is only about 85 percent of the largest T. rex discovered.
The researchers made the discovery during a mission to the Hell Creek Formation in northern Montana, which is renowned as a site of dinosaur fossils. At first, some members of the team saw a bone sticking out from a rocky hillside. Their excavation revealed other remains of the T. rex, now nicknamed Tufts-Love Rex, in honor of Burke Museum paleontology volunteers and discoverers Jason Love and Luke Tufts.
The bones are now placed in a plaster jacket, which is the same cast that healthcare professionals use to cover a broken bone. The fossils can be viewed by the public at the Burke Museum from August 20 to October 2. More T. rex-themed activities are set for Sept. 25.
“Having seen the ‘Tufts-Love Rex’ during its excavation, I can attest to the fact that it is definitely one of the most significant specimens yet found, and because of its size, is sure to yield important information about the growth and possible eating habits of these magnificent animals,” says Burke Museum research associate Jack Horner, who was also a former curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockie.