Rare 1.2m T. rex skull found

2016-08-21 19:53
Encased in plaster, the 1.2m, 1 600kg remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex skull , is carefully positioned on a wheeled cart to then be moved by fork lift to the loading dock of the Burke Museum in Seattle. (Alan Berner, The Seattle Times via AP)

Encased in plaster, the 1.2m, 1 600kg remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex skull , is carefully positioned on a wheeled cart to then be moved by fork lift to the loading dock of the Burke Museum in Seattle. (Alan Berner, The Seattle Times via AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Seattle - Palaeontologists with Seattle's Burke Museum have unearthed the bones of a Tyrannosaurus rex that lived more than 66 million years ago, including a rare nearly complete 1.2m-long skull.

The remarkable discovery includes the dinosaur's vertebrae, ribs, hips and lower jaw bones, and represents about 20% of the meat-eating predator.

Several dozen scientists, volunteers, students and others worked over the summer to excavate the bones in the Hell Creek Formation in Montana, a site well known for fossil finds.

The team later encased the massive skull in a protective plaster cast, lifted the 1 100kg load onto a flatbed truck with the help of local Montana ranchers and drove it to Seattle. The skull was unloaded at the Burke Museum on Thursday.

The plaster-covered skull will be on display to the public for several weeks starting Saturday. Over the next year, palaeontologists will painstakingly work on removing the rock around the skull.

Scientists estimate the dinosaur is 85% the size of the largest T. rex discovered and, based on the size of its skull, lived about 15 years. They believe this T. rex roamed the earth in the late Cretaceous period.

There are only 14 other nearly complete T. rex skulls that have been found, the museum 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," Gregory Wilson, a University of Washington biology professor and adjunct curator of vertebrate palaeontology at the Burke Museum, said in a statement. He led the expedition team.

The T. rex is named after two museum palaeontology volunteers, Jason Love and Luke Tufts, who were combing for fossils when they came across large fossilised vertebrae sticking out of a rocky hillside last summer.

The two were with a team collecting fossils as part of the Hell Creek Project, currently led by Wilson and started by Jack Horner, who discovered the world's first dinosaur embryos, and Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft chief technology officer who is a Burke Museum research associate.

The team knew the fossils belonged to a meat-eating dinosaur because of the large size and appearance of the bones, but they weren't sure whether it was a T. rex. They didn't have the chance to excavate further until this summer when they returned to the site.

Over the course of a month, Burke palaeontologists and others used tools such as jackhammers, axes and shovels to dig up the bones. They first removed about 20 tons of rock and then dug further to uncover pelvic bones and other parts.

More digging led to the most amazing find: the right side of the T. rex skull, including snout and teeth.

Scientists think the other half of the skull is there as well. They plan to return to the site next year to search for that and other dinosaur parts.

Horner, a Burke Museum research associate who built a vast collection of dinosaur specimens while at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana, said in the statement that the discovery was "one of the most significant specimens yet found".

Read more on:    us  |  archaeology

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.